Wheatley High School students turn their passion for cars into a bright future

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Wheatley's automotive technology program turns unexpected passions into bright futures for students.

When a car rolls up into Wheatley High School, students know exactly what to do.

"I didn't do anything before this. Like, I didn't know what I wanted to do before I found this shop," explained 17-year-old Joshua Gonzales. "Now I want to be a mechanic. That's all I want to do."

When Gonzales graduates next year, he will have earned certifications in air conditioning, electronics, and tires.

Gonzales will be able to open up his own shop immediately, if he chooses to, which is a big relief for his family.

"They're just telling me to just keep on going on it and don't give up, because they see how much I work on my car, how much time and money I put into it," Gonzales said.

Wheatley's automotive technology class is one of the most popular in the school.

It's part of a new push toward vocational options for students.

"There are some kids that will excel at our curriculum and they are going to go to those traditional universities," said Principal Joseph Williams. "Then there are some that can be welders, they can be that mechanic, they can have their own businesses."

The program also helps teachers and students save money. They can bring their vehicles in, and students will fix them up free of charge.

"I kind of wasn't looking into school, but once they had a mechanics class, oh man," said 17-year-old Gregorio Salinas. "I like working with cars and stuff like that."

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