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Cherry Creek Schools automotive students win state competition; $80,000 in scholarships

​Two Cherry Creek Schools automotive technology students earned first place and more than $80,000 in scholarships at the 2014 State Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition, held May 10 at the Lincoln College of Technology in Denver.

Seniors Jared Freihoefer, who attends Grandview High School, and Shane Cleavenger, who attends Cherokee Trail High School, were one of ten teams that scored the highest on the state qualifying exam and moved on to the "hands-on" state finals, in which 2014 Ford Fiesta vehicles were uniformly "bugged" so that each team had identical malfunctions to diagnose and repair. The competition required repairs to be made with the highest quality workmanship in the lowest total time.

Freihoefer and Cleavenger, who take automotive repair classes at Smoky Hill High School,  repaired their vehicle in 85 minutes by diagnosing and repairing a dozen "bugs" and they had the highest-quality repairs of any state team. This earned the pair a first place state trophy and their choice of scholarships to post-secondary schools, including a full-ride, two-year scholarship to Lincoln College of Technology. The scholarships totaled over $80,000.

The students and their instructor, Brian Manley, will embark on an all-expenses paid trip to the National finals of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Contest in Detroit, Michigan, June 8-11. Their trip will include the national contest on the front lawn of Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters, dinner at the Henry Ford Museum, and a tour of the River Rouge Truck Plant, where the Ford F-150 is manufactured. The program is supported by Ford Motor Company, Omeara Ford, Napa Auto Parts, and the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Freihoefer and Cleavenger studied outside of school hours to familiarize themselves with a 2014 Ford Fiesta, provided by Mike Naughton Ford.

“This success would not have been possible without community support and the "get-it-done" attitude that had our students’ best interests at heart,” said Manley, who is the Automotive Technology instructor at Smoky Hill.

He also thanked the students’ parents and teachers for helping them juggle their class work and graduation deadlines as they "crammed" for their ultimate automotive challenge.

“Jared and Shane aren't done cramming,” added Manley. “When we receive notice of the national contest vehicle, we will acquire this vehicle and spend two weeks (after graduation) getting to know their new national challenge car or truck.”

Automotive Technology is offered through the Cherry Creek Schools Career and Technical Education Department. Classes are held at Smoky Hill and Overland high schools. For more information, visit

The Ford / AAA Student Auto Skills competition fosters young people's interest in the automotive industry through a nationwide competition with opportunities to win prizes, scholarships, tools and awards along with an experience that could help shape the future of their careers.

Posted May 19, 2014.

Posted 5/19/2014 1:13 PM
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