An advancement in education

Senior Gage Hudnall attends the Olathe Advanced Technical Center to be eligible to receive college credit and gain life skills for future careers.


Senior Gage Hudnall shows his Auto Collision instructor, Ian Higgs, an old, painted bowling pin. The bowling pins were used to teach the students how to sand and paint before they could sand or paint a car.

Olivia Dowell, Writer

Due to his love of cars and hands-on work opportunities, senior Gage Hudnall enrolled in the Automotive Collision Technology department at the Olathe Advanced Technical Center.

“They actually teach you how to work on [cars],” Hudnall said. “I decided to try it out, and I love it so far and it’s a lot of fun.”

This is Hudnall’s first year in the program, where he works in the Auto Collision Technology department doing paint jobs and touch-ups. Hudnall works with auto-tech, using top-of-the-line equipment, like computers and car engines, for free.

In the beginning of class at OATC, Hudnall said the teacher discusses the material in the textbook for around 20 minutes. Next, the class moves on to the workshop, where lately they have been doing projects such as practicing their sanding and painting skills on bowling pins.

Because of its non-traditional class setting, Hudnall said OATC offers many post-college opportunities.

“They have a lot more equipment and it’s a totally different kind of learning because you are learning how to work on a vehicle,” Hudnall said.

The principal of OATC, Amy Stolz, said the purpose of the program is to provide education about college majors to students from a variety of high schools. She said OATC offers health careers along with Automotive Technology, Automotive Collision Technology, Construction Trades and Culinary Arts programs.

“We really focus on leadership and bringing out the leader in every single student and so there are a lot of wide-variety of leadership opportunities to participate in classrooms, buildings, and the district,” Stolz said.

It’s a totally different kind of learning because you are learning how to work on a vehicle.”

— Gage Hudnall

By introducing him to new opportunities, Hudnall said OATC made him think about life after high school.

“It has made me open my mind up to actually being in auto-tech and made me think of maybe taking classes at junior college,” Hudnall said.  “[My teacher] actually took us to JuCo to show us the classes we could take.”

Stolz said many opportunities are available for completing an OATC program. In addition to these opportunities, she said each OATC program includes aspects of science, technology, engineering and math.

“They’re earning high school credit and are also earning college credit because that is offered with most courses and then working on the certification and working toward completing a certification exam,” Stolz said.

At OATC, Hudnall has benefited from the enjoyment of completing a program that will help with college and gives easy access to car equipment.

“You get a certification at the end of it that’s actually worth something in life,” Hudnall said. “You get it for free instead of having to pay for it because you are going through the school.”

Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Tyler Alexander said the OATC programs will not be available to most Blue Valley students beginning next year. However, a junior currently enrolled may continue the program during his or her senior year.

“The partnership that we had with the Olathe School District is phasing out,” Alexander said. “There’s a lot of demand in the Olathe programs, so since it’s their program they had to look at who was taking those [spots].”

Hudnall said he feels OATC prepares students for college by having a setting similar to a college’s classroom.

“It prepares you for college because you are really learning hands on and in college you are going to do a lot of hands on work as well as school work,” Hudnall said. “It gives you the hands-on perspective and it teaches you leadership.”