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Ralston High School's automotive academy earns ASE accreditation

Posted at 1:54 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 14:54:50-04

RALSTON, Neb. (KMTV) — Ralston High School is going above and beyond to prepare students who are interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry.

However, it hasn’t always been that way.

“When I started here it was more of a hobby shop,” Ralston High School Automotive Instructor Andrew Berthold said.

A little over six years later, the school’s automotive academy is much more than just a hobby shop.

“That was my number one goal — to get ASE accreditation,” Berthold said.

“I don’t know of another school that has it,” Woodhouse Automotive Senior Manager Jake Aufenkamp said. “So, to me that’s huge.”

In fact, Ralston is the only high school in the state of Nebraska that will now offer ASE certification.

“Automotive Service Excellence is what that stands for,” Ralston Public Schools Career Education Coordinator Josh Wilken said. “So, our students are getting certification while still in high school.”

Students that complete the small engines course, automotive maintenance course, and two full years of auto academy, will earn their ASE professional certification in maintenance and light repair.

Something most mechanics won’t get until post-secondary school or once they get into the professional field. Giving students a leg up on everyone else entering the field.

“We’re teaching things the students need to know to go to work or go to college for automotive and help them go to the next level,” Berthold said.

A big reason for the accreditation has to do with the school’s Automotive Advisory Board.

The board consists of automotive business leaders in the community who work and meet with the students and provide seniors in the program with internships.

“They come out of here with real on-the-job training. They get access to the dealership level experience or after-market experience; industry managers and owners are involved with the program,” Aufenkamp, who is an adviser on the board, said. “They have one-on-one interactions with the students and faculty. So, it’s huge.”

“We wouldn’t be where we are without them,” Berthold said.

The process to receive ASE certification has been in the works for a few years.

Now it is here, and students can pursue their career goals right after high school.

“It gives them a career outcome. Something to look forward to, something to connect to,” Wilken said. “We have students that are very dedicated to this program and they know they want to be automotive technicians or even start their own business someday.”

“I’m very excited for students, very excited for the school and very excited for the community of Ralston,” Berthold said.

There are a total of 16 students that are currently in the final two years of auto academy.

Ralston High School says the next step is to explore dual credit opportunities with Metro Community College.