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THS students win state title in automotive skills competition

As the Thomson High School baseball team was wrapping up a region title last month, two fellow students were bringing home state championship trophies.

Seniors Chevy Phillips and Dakota Aldred won top honors in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills state competition in Perry, Ga., on April 28.

The two students won $51,000 each in scholarships.

As they worked on a 1996 Oldmobile Ciera's air conditioning system Monday, the two students talked about the competition and their plans for the future.

Thomson's automotive program has won 16 championships in the competition since 1988, instructor Jason Brooks said. Given that tradition, did the two students think they were expected to win?

"We thought we were," Chevy said. "We had plenty of practice."

"They were nervous, though," Brooks said.

Chevy said he plans to use a portion of his scholarship money to attend Nashville Auto Diesel College.

Dakota said he will probably enroll in the Ford Asset Program.

"You sign a contract with Ford, and they agree to pay for your schooling," he said.

So what if he doesn't use all of the scholarship money?

"You have to give it back." Chevy said.

"Most dealerships will pay for your schooling."

In the state competition, Brooks said, the teams worked on 2012 Ford Mustangs in the hands-on portion. The cars were "sabotaged," he said, and the quickest team won.

The Thomson team was the only one that had a perfect car, he said.

Automotive work is a family tradition for both students.

"My grandfather's been a mechanic, and my father is, too," Chevy said.

"My grandpa used to work for GM" in Detroit, Dakota said.

Next up for the state champions is the national competition in Dearborn, Mich., June 12-15.

Web posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011

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