S. San Francisco students sad to see auto shop program move

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- A small group of students in South San Francisco is trying to hold on to their auto shop program which is expected to go away after Thursday. The school district believes the demand for this elective is just not there, but students think it is an important part of their education.

Alejandro Ochoa says he's not the best at writing school essays, but if you give him a car to work on, he's in his element.

"It's kind in my blood. My dad is a mechanic. I want to become an auto technician. I want to work on electrical cars and old V8s," Ochoa said.

Ochoa is a student at El Camino High in South San Francisco where the auto shop program was established nearly 50 years ago. The guy who started it, still heads it.

"I was just out of college and I walked right in and never left," auto shop director James Cresta said.

Cresta says the district tells him they will close the auto shop because there is little demand for the elective.

"It's student-demand driven so we have a smaller community of students here at El Camino High School wanting this program," school district spokesperson Rolando Bonilla said.

So, the district will offer these students a chance to take this elective somewhere else at another high school, less than two miles away and at Skyline College.

"Every and any student wanting to take this class will always have the opportunity to take auto body within the school district," Bonilla said.

Still, Ochoa says it's still not convenient for him to go somewhere else.

"I'm not really going to move to another school. I live really close to here. If these lose this program, I am going to lose what I like to do," Ochoa said.

The district also says El Camino is putting a lot of resources into its science program. A new science building opened last month.

But Cresta says the auto shop has been a good option for students who are more mechanically inclined. He's not about to stop teaching this trade.

"I plan on having an auto club, an after school auto club. I have really high student interest," Cresta said.

Cresta wants to keep his doors open for those who aren't necessarily thinking about college.
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