Students at a South Carolina high school will have the chance to get hands-on driving experience in preparation for taking their CDL test.
The new training program at Eau Claire High School in Columbia, South Carolina is designed to prepare high school students to take the CDL test once they graduate. The course will be offered starting in the 2018-2019 school year. It is a three-year, four-class commitment starting in the tenth grade.
“We wanted to expand from what we were already doing to something that was needed in our community and would be usable as far as our students and graduating from high school,” Principal Neshunda Walters said.
Students must meet a minimum grade requirement and will have health requirements similar to those they might find if they were going into a private CDL training program. A school bus and a tractor-trailer were donated to the school for training purposes. Students will be able to drive them in the school parking lot, but not on the road. The school also has a truck driving simulator.
“The courses are designed to give students the course work and hands-on training that they would need to be able to graduate from high school and take the CDL test,” Walters said.
Eau Claire High School is the first school in the state to implement a CDL training program. Walters said she hopes similar programs can be started at other South Carolina schools.
“I want us to one day be able to be the flagship as far as showing other schools how this program is set up so they can put this program in other schools around the state,” Walters said. “I came from a rural school district and they’ve already been in communication with me about how they can start a program like this one.”
Bus and truck drivers are in high demand, so the program will connect students with reliable careers.
“We want to be able to provide that as a career option for our students,” Walters said.
The high school hosted a transportation career day Jan. 24 and invited leaders from local trucking companies. Students were able to get into the trucks and learn about transportation careers and the new CDL training program.
“It was a great kickoff. As we’ve been registering our eighth grade students they’ve been inquiring about how they can be a part of our transportation career cluster and what do they need to do to get enrolled. I think having that transportation career day was a great way to initiate our students’ interest in getting a CDL drivers license,” Walters said.