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San Clemente Journal

San Clemente Automotive Technology Partnership Academy

Jul 21, 2020 11:03AM ● By Donia Moore
Schools Working Together 

by Donia Moore

 Once upon a time, there was an elective in high school called Auto Shop. I know because I was the first girl in my school to take it and I learned some very important things about cars – like how to rebuild a carburetor back when cars had carburetors. I’m not sure I still remember how to do that, but I still have the old carburetor I rebuilt from that semester. 
Why did I take Auto Shop? I wanted to know about cars and this seemed the best place to learn. I enjoyed the hands-on lessons we had, but I would have been thrilled if I’d had the opportunity to attend a program like the San Clemente Automotive Technology Partnership Academy (ATPA). This is a whole new level above the old familiar Auto Shop. 

San Clemente Automotive Technology Partnership Academy
Sean Selff is the ATPA’s Academy Director/Auto Technology Teacher. Working with other academic staff members, he reminds participants that while the focus of the ATPA is automotives, the program is actually designed to prepare students for a wide variety of options following graduation from high school. The education and skills developed in the academy can prepare students for career opportunities in many fields. Students are encouraged to select one or more post-secondary school options as their high school goal. They can work towards an entry level position as a technician or towards a post-secondary general/technical education at Saddleback Community College. Maybe they are headed for a post-secondary technical education at an accredited technical college or at a four-year university. A number of students prepare themselves for entry into military service. 

The First CUSD State-Funded Academy
The San Clemente ATPA stands alone in the Capistrano Unified School District. It is not an elective but an entire school-within-a-school. One of over 300 California Partnership Academies, the ATPA is funded and operates in accordance with the requirements of Education Code 54690-54697. The California Academy model grew out of the Philadelphia Academies that began in the 1960s, and spread to California in the early 1980s. 

The ATPA, which was the first CUSD state-funded academy, began in 1998. It incorporates many of the recommendations of the high school reform movement, including creating a close family-like atmosphere, integrating academic and career-technical education, and establishing viable business partnerships. Academies throughout the nation and the state have been found to have positive impacts on students’ school performance.  

With its strong Mission Statement and stringent requirements for participating students, the sequential three-year program in grades 10-12, is considered a model program for other school districts all over the country.

Mission Statement
“The San Clemente High School Automotive Technology Partnership Academy’s Mission is to ensure every student’s intellectual, practical and emotional growth, and to promote effective employment skills, work ethics and citizenship. We offer a diversity of technological and mechanical curriculums as well as industry related practical applications that meets a variety of individual needs of our Academy students.”  

Goals of the Academy
The Academy’s main goal is to facilitate a beneficial connection between student education, the future needs of the automotive industry, and the needs of the community. It includes working towards an integrated, rigorous curriculum that reaches across a variety of learning styles and age levels, and promoting students to meet academic and practical challenges while incorporating openness, enthusiasm, and a willingness to solve problems. 

Special Services
A few of the special services available to those students who meet the stringent requirements of the ATPA include: Internships; Job Shadowing; On-line Curriculum; ASE-NATEF Certification (MLR); Academy Administrative Assistant; Academy Administrator; Guest Speakers; and Mentors. 

Students & Parents Have Responsibilities to the Academy, too
The Academy is not a place for slacking off. If students don’t keep up their eligibility, they are not welcome in the program. 

ATPA students are exposed to a wide range of opportunities, from the occupational training needed for entry-level employment to preparation for college entrance (A-G requirements, SAT/ACT, AP Courses, etc.).  In order for academy students to maintain academy eligibility they must complete or continually maintain the standards set by the program.

As in many of the other SCHS programs, parents are expected to support their students and a variety of opportunities exist for parents to be involved with the academy. It is generally recognized that the more parents are involved with their student's school activities, the greater the increase in performance from their student. All academy parents are encouraged to become involved by serving on one or more of the committees/activities available in the program. They help plan academy activities, chaperone Field-Study trips, and help with fundraiser activities, as well as a number of other activities. They can act as Mentors, Guest Speakers, and more.

Business Partners 
Isn’t it a great feeling to support the businesses that support our students? Next time you are in need of automotive work, why not try one of the businesses here in town that supports the APTA with sponsorships and Summer Intern programs? There are quite a few, such as Allen Cadillac; Hyundai; Auto Medic; CAARS Alignment & Auto Repair; Tuttle Click Capistrano Ford; Holley's Tire Service; El Camino Automotive; SC Rider Supply; and Rancho SC Auto. Let them know you are at their business because of their support!

Student Recruitment into ATPA
Students are selected to participate in the auto academy during the second semester of the 9th grade. The selection process basically includes a three-step process: small group meetings with all 9th grade students and parents where Academy brochures and applications are distributed; information collection on each student; and individual student interviews. A preliminary selection is made and students are notified. The sophomore class is limited to the first 35 students who return their application and signed parents permission slips. If there are more qualified students than positions, the remainder are offered spots on the waiting list. Formal final selection occurs after all "newly selected" academy students are interviewed by the SCHS administration.  A formal acceptance letter, signed by the principal, is presented to the students. 

Late Entry
It is possible to enter the program up until the beginning of the 11th grade under special circumstances. While the academy is designed as a three-year commitment, exceptions may be made to admit students at the second semester of the 10th grade or even at the beginning of the 11th grade.  If your student is interested, please contact Mr. Sean Selff at San Clemente High School.

They’ll probably learn a lot more than how to rebuild a carburetor.

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