New mentor, familiar win for GHS auto team

First-year teacher helps student duo uphold proud tradition by placing first in state ADAMM competition

GRAFTON HIGH SCHOOL Auto Hawks team — including (from left) student Kevin Arneson, teacher Nic Fullington and student Thomas Fredrickson — took first place at the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee Technicians of Tomorrow Competition last weekend.
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

First-year Grafton High School auto technology teacher Nic Fullington is keeping a winning tradition alive after his mentor and longtime educator Carl Hader retired last year.

The Grafton Auto Hawks took first place in the 28th annual Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee Technicians of Tomorrow Competition at the Milwaukee International Autoshow on Friday, May 7, at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis.

The duo of Kevin Arneson and Thomas Fredrickson vied for honors against other area finalists from Muskego, Oconomowoc, Waukesha, West Allis and Lake Geneva in a technology-based car contest that centered around a 2021 Ford Escape and six automotive service excellence-based work stations.

By winning, Arneson and Fredrickson each earned a Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association scholarship and Snap-on tool package valued at more than $7,000.  

“Not bad for a day of work,” Fullington said.

Fullington credited Boucher Ford in Thiensville, where Grafton graduates and past Auto Hawks Brian Fromm and Justin Bublitz are master technicians, and Mark Wissing of Schmit Bros. Ford in Saukville, another Grafton auto tech program graduate, for helping with the team preparation.  

“It takes a village,” Fullington said. “GHS has graduates located at many area dealerships, and they are always willing to help the next generation of technicians reach their career goals.”

More than 100 students from southeastern Wisconsin high schools took the automotive service excellence student certification test in December to qualify for the finals.

This is the 20th Grafton team that has won the ADAMM Technicians of Tomorrow Competition since 1994. Many of the graduates now work in the automotive industry as car and truck technicians, automotive educators and as design engineers.

Arneson and Fredrickson are students in Fullington’s Advanced Auto Tech class. Arneson works as an apprentice technician at Cedar Creek Motor Sports in Cedarburg. Fredrickson is an apprentice technician at David Hobbs Honda in Glendale.

Both students practiced outside of class on the weekends. Boucher Ford in Thiensville was the sponsoring dealership, providing support and guidance as well as access to a 2021 Ford Escape.

During the competition, the Grafton team divided its time to do 2-1/2 hours of work in one hour.

In addition to the car repair, the duo took a written test. Afterward, they were faced with six more work station tests for electronic diagnosis, air conditioning, tire and wheel service, under-car inspection and diagnosis and wiring repair.

Each contestant also had a job interview with human resource directors from local dealerships.

For Fullington, winning his first competition as a teacher is personal. He graduated from GHS in 2016 and said he is proud to have returned to his alma mater as a teacher.

Fullington said he knows he has big shoes to fill in replacing Hader, who spent 41 years at the school and helped students win numerous state and national awards.

Although Hader retired from the Grafton School District last year, he still helps out at the school as a “shop mentor” to Fullington on a weekly basis.

“I’m really lucky to have Mr. Hader as my mentor. He taught me everything I know about cars in high school, and I’m very glad he has remained on board to teach me more,” Fullington said.

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