Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter
The Walker County Center of Technology (WCCT) has provided local students with valuable trade skills for many years, producing jobs and workers within the county lines. Two of its most recent graduates – Christian Lawrence and Ian McKenzie – completed their time at WCCT with many district and state accomplishments to their merit. These men have now become familiar faces at renowned local car dealership, Carl Cannon Chevrolet Buick GMC.
Christian Lawrence participated in the Automotive Technology Program at WCCT for three years, under the instruction of Michael Craig. He also participated in Skills USA, a trade skill competition, placing first in the district twice and first in the state his senior year. This competition focuses not only on one’s physical skills, but also on communication and problem-solving. Christian has exhibited all these traits while helping Michael mentor younger students and holding a leadership role within his church. Christian now works in the Diesel Fleet Shop at Carl Cannon and attends Lawson Community College in Bessemer. When he graduates, he will have earned an associate degree in applied sciences and a master’s degree in automotive technology.
Ian McKenzie has also participated in Skills USA several times, placing second in the district twice and third in the state his senior year. This experience prepared him to begin working in the Oil Change and Maintenance Bay at Carl Cannon. Ian was awarded a grant from the Walker County Area Foundation, receiving a new set of tools to begin working right after his high school graduation. He is also attending Lawson Community College for the General Motors program.
Michael says that Curt Ballard of Carl Cannon has greatly supported his program.
“I want Walker County to know that our students are learning employable skills in high school, and many of them are ready to go to work right after they graduate if that’s what they choose,” Michael says. “We must invest in what we have. Our goal is to not only educate these young people, but to grow the community, help them make connections and build relationships, and show them they can be successful right in their hometown.” WL