Harding High School students service veterans' cars for free

Local students service veterans' cars for free

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A program at Harding High School puts students on a road to a career.

“I just like cars a lot, so I just want to go into NASCAR, pit crew,” sophomore Khazanna Sessoms said.

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Sessoms' automotive class got to work with northern tools and equipment and checked out cars belonging to local veterans, including Michael Verardo.

“They know more than me,” U.S. Army veteran Michael Verardo said.

The unique experience is helping broaden the minds of the high school students, many who have a passion for the automotive industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said earlier this year that the auto industry desperately needs an additional 46,000 techs by 2026 to meet the growing demand nationwide.

Over the past two years, students at Harding have found success, including a student who works on helicopters in the military.

More students at Harding have ASE certifications than any other school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The 24 students can apply for any job across the country.

Their teacher, Stephen Hambleton, said the certificate opens the doors to loads of opportunities.

“Not everybody is cut out for college,” Hambleton said. “We know that to be a fact. With student debt at an all-time high and people going to college aimlessly, without any direction, this gives a hands-on visual learner -- a chance to expose themselves to, 'Hey, this is what I want to do or something like it.'”