Unaka’s Hughes shines in CTE program

Published 8:17 am Monday, March 25, 2019

Here recently, Unaka High School senior Athin Hughes did a first.
He became the first Carter County School System student to get his I-Car Certification for collision repair, a certification that is well known in the collision repair industry. Hughes will be getting his pro-level 1 certification which will make him very competitive in the collision repair job market.
“It feels pretty good,” said Hughes. “I never thought I would be the first person to do this.”
Hughes said he is the first in his family to enter this line of work and that painting and working on cars is just something he loves to do.
“I just love painting, and I love working on cars and trying to fix them,” he said.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” added Hughes. “You have to listen to the teacher. Some of the students don’t like to listen, but I am one to actually listen.”
At Unaka High School, Hughes has learned under teacher Scotty Johnson who teaches autobody and collision repair.
“He has really inspired me to some amazing things,” said Hughes. “The first year we had him I went to state and placed third. And it is because of his teaching. This year, I hope to place first.”
Hughes has collected many accolades at Unaka. Here recently, he placed first at the SkillsUSA Region competition in the Automotive Refinish Technician contest. He also took first in the Top Wrench competition for his custom painted mailbox. Hughes also worked on painting the truck bed/pool table that helped Carter County CTE students win first place in the Battle of the Builds contest that was hosted by the Johnson City Area Home Builders Association.
Johnson said that one thing that makes Hughes good at what he does is his work ethic.
“Athin is a very committed student,” said Johnson. “He is very self-driven. He sets goals for himself on a daily basis and always achieves them. He is probably the best student that I have ever had.”
A lot of students look to going to universities for their future. Johnson said, however, that CTE programs such as welding and automotive repair can also give students a bright future.
“CTE hands-on skills are very important,” said Johnson. “I attended a teacher’s conference a couple of years ago, and the business bureau said that in ten or fifteen years that technical hands-on skills will pay as much as a doctor or lawyer. I do believe that because welding is already there. There are dealerships in this area where technicians are making 100-plus thousand a year.”
This past Sunday, Hughes, who took third place at state last year,¬†¬†traveled to Chattanooga to compete in the SkillsUSA State Contest. Hughes was joined by classmate Ben Whaley who finished second at this year’s regional contest.

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