Spokane Skills Center’s Name Says It All

SPOKANE — More than 700 high school students around the Inland Northwest take classes at the Spokane Skills Center, and for many this will give them a leg up on the competition later in life.

Inside the Spokane Skills Center automotive facility in North Spokane, dozens of work to make old, beat-up cars look new again.

Noisy is an understatement. There is a hum in the air as the compressors and brake repair machines work. It smells like paint and motor oil. Many students are wearing protective face gear and heavy clothing stained with motor fluid. 

Chris Yochum, a senior at Central Valley High School, is finishing up a painting project using a rusted fender red.

“They’re like my babies, watch them grow and get better,” says Chris Yochum, a senior at Central Valley.

While the students love this work, parents are encouraged as they see their children’s grades improve.

“Sure I’ve seen my grades improve, by a lot,” says Yochum.

In the next room over Brandon Robo and Shenice McDaniel are learning how to properly align a car. Shenice is a junior at Ferris and is competing in a state competition in Yakima, Wash.

“I love getting my hands dirty,” says McDaniel.

She says her Dad is an inspiration and her dream is to one day be a race car driver.

“Guys think girls don’t know what they are doing, but I love proving them wrong,” McDaniel said.  

Brandon Robo is working closely with McDaniel today. His father works as an Air Force airplane mechanic, a profession that has inspired Robo.

“I liked being able to say ‘yeah I fixed that’,” says Robo. “I’d rather be here that at regular school.” It’s a phrase you hear a lot of around here.

Yochum, Robo, and McDaniel all say they want to graduate high school and go onto college.

“Pursue what you want because you will have to live with these choices the rest of your life,” Robo said.