A bright, spring sun Saturday glistened off more than 60 immaculately polished cars and trucks on display for a large crowd attending the first-ever Livingston Parish Literary Technology Center’s Car Show fundraiser.

While the car show was sponsored by the Automotive Service Technician classes at the center, the event also showcased the school’s varied program.

“Many people don’t realize what we offer under this one big roof … there is a misconception that the classes we offer here are mainly for students looking for a career when they leave high school … but about 70 percent of our graduates plan to go to college and they can use the unique skills they learn here to help them readily find jobs that will help them earn their college diploma,” Kim Albin, director of the LPLTC, said.

Albin said those students who do not plan on advancing their education are “job ready” when they graduate from one of the LPLTC programs.

The Literary Technology Center is a joint venture of the Livingston Parish School Board and Southeastern Louisiana University.

Participating were representatives of the medical assistant, criminal justice, emergency medical technician, patient care technician and computer service technician branches of the technology center. Each group had displays or demonstrations for the public.

Proceeds raised by charging owners of the cars on display a small fee to participate in the car show will be used to purchase additional tools used in instruction sessions.

Joshua Murphy, automotive instructor for the center, said the program teaches budding automotive technicians every aspect of automotive repair.

“We start with the basics, teaching students about the tools they will be using and we build on their skills from there.” Murphy said. “By the time they complete the two-year program, they know everything about a vehicle from the engine to the brakes. They are ready to go to work at dealerships and repair shops.”

Murphy currently has about 40 students in the automotive technician program. All are juniors or seniors who attend Livingston Parish high schools.

The students spend half of their day at the technology center and the other half at their respective schools where they pursue traditional subjects. Upon completion of their curriculum they receive a diploma at graduation with their fellow classmates.

Those completing one of the technology courses earn more than just a diploma. Murphy said that after successfully completing the course the student can earn Industry Based Accreditation which certifies that they have mastered the skills it takes to be an automotive technician.

Murphy said the automotive service technician program has been offered since 2003 and that graduates of the program have been successful in getting jobs right after graduation.

Devin Bennett, a senior at Live Oak High School is nearing completion of the automotive service technician program and is planning to represent the LPLTC at the Ford Motor Challenge, which will be held on the state level in Alexandria later this spring. If he wins there, he will advance to national competition, something other LPLTC graduates have achieved.

Participants in the competition are presented with a vehicle that has a “bug” or problem that needs to be repaired and the student must trace the source of the problem and properly make repairs. Bennett says he enjoys the competition and is proud to represent the technology center in the contest.

“I thoroughly enjoy working on vehicles and I have learned so much through the program here. Working on modern vehicles is a real challenge as cars and trucks have become more complex … but we have the right tools and the knowledge of how to fix them. It’s fun and I look forward to every day I spend here,” he said.

Bennett plans to attend Louisiana Tech University and will major in an aviation-related field. He said that he will use his knowledge of car repairs to perhaps find a job that will help pay for his college education.

Graduates of programs at the technology center can also earn college credits for some of the courses they take giving them a head start on accumulating college credit hours.

The emphasis Saturday was on the cars and trucks of varied types and vintages. However, all programs offered at the LPLTC had something to offer patrons visiting the show.

Emily Fink, a Walker High School senior in the patient care technician program at LPLTC, was working with some fellow students on a raffle to raise money to purchase additional supplies for their classes.

Jerrianna Brown, a pharmacy technician teacher, said the car show was a great way to introduce her program to the community.

“Today we have a chance to show what our students are accomplishing,” Brown said. We are blessed to have some great students who are eager to learn a critical skill. Some will get a job when they graduate and others will go to college to become nurses. They will all be well prepared for the future.”

Albin, who said he is “like a principal of the Literary Technology Center,” promoted the job-ready aspect of the programs highlighted.

“We are offering some very special educational opportunities that can help all of our students in a unique way. Our students will gain very special skills that will allow them positive options for their future. They are ready to go to work in a productive field or very well prepared for college,” he said.

“We feel that we are giving them something that will impact their lives and we are very grateful that the public is getting a chance to see just what we have to offer the young people of Livingston Parish at the Literacy and Technology Center.”