A bright orange sign in the Grant Union Junior-Senior High School shop classroom reads “Putting America Back To Work.”
Eleven students in Jason Miller’s automotive class have been using some elbow grease for their latest project — replacing the head gasket of a 2002 Toyota Highlander.
“It’s a common problem, especially with high-mileage vehicles,” Miller said.
All the students took turns under the Toyota attempting to remove a final bolt, including Luke Claughton.
“The difficulty is the bottom bolt is near the brackets,” Miller said, adding it makes it a tight area to work in.
Once it’s removed the class planned to either plane the warped part or replace it.
Claughton said he has experience working on different types of vehicles.
“Motorcycles, cars, four-wheelers — a little of everything,” he said.
Bank of Eastern Oregon donated the Toyota to the class, and Doug’s Auto Repair & Towing donated the tow to the school.
Caleb Rand was also under the vehicle lending a hand to Claughton. Rand said he’s learned some mechanic skills from his dad.
“He teaches me how to take stuff apart, and I hand him the tools he needs,” he said.
Miller said this is the first time in several years the class has been offered.
He said Measure 98 was a bill that gave Oregon schools incentive to improve their Career Technical Education.
“I’m taking the class to learn how to diagnose vehicles,” said Dillon Maley. “It’s been a fun experience learning all the new skills.”
Freshman Clara Carr said she’s learned to change oil and tires.
Next up, the class planned to learn to change a fuel filter and put a new engine in a Jeep.
“They’re motivated,” Miller said. “It’s a good group, and I’d like to see it continue.”