PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- A 17-year-old junior from Channel Islands High School in Oxnard, Calif., completed Construction Mechanic (CM) "A" School at the Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) May 19.
For the past 11 weeks, Andrew Geer, a standout auto mechanics student in high school, has been aboard Naval Base Ventura County, working alongside Navy and Air Force military members at NCTC Port Hueneme. He has been learning the ins-and-outs of engines, powertrains, brakes, steering systems and other critical components of military and commercial vehicles, completing 464 hours of coursework.
While the other nine students graduating with him are now officially Seabees, ready for their first duty station, Andrew returns to Channel Islands High in the fall to take one more year of classes and receive his diploma.
"Andrew now has the opportunity to finish high school and see what the future holds for him," said Cmdr. Charlie Willmore, NCTC commanding officer, during the CM graduation ceremony. "In every case, each one of these students will put to great use the skills they've learned here."
Geer was one of five students participating in a cooperative program with Oxnard Union High School District that opens NCTC's doors to outstanding mechanically-inclined high school students. Two other local students are currently in the program and two graduated earlier this year.
"We're ecstatic about being able to provide this program," said NCTC Chief Construction Mechanic (SCW) Jeff Bright. "It helps students to graduate high school on time with the correct number of credits, and it can provide some direction to those who aren't sure what they want to do with their lives."
Geer attended courses in the NCTC classrooms from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each weekday. His high school considered it independent study, so he squeezed in English, physical education and other academics at the end of the day, working with an Oxnard Union High School District independent studies coordinator.
Andrew's father, Eric and his grandfather Roger attended the graduation ceremony and have witnessed the effects of the program firsthand.
"I've seen Andrew become much more mature and more responsible," said Roger Geer.
Andrew's father said he's confident his son will put everything he learned to good use.
"There's always something that breaks down and there's always someone who doesn't want to work on it," said Eric Geer. "Hopefully he'll use what he's learned to his advantage."
Andrew's dad worked as a mechanic for 10 years, and Andrew grew up tinkering with cars. Today, there's a 1971 Plymouth Satellite sitting in his side yard, waiting for him to get some spare time.
"I've grown up around manual labor work," he said. "It's more fun for me than bookwork. I can't sit around and do nothing."
Oddly enough, it was by sheer accident that he ended up in auto shop in high school.
"I'd signed up for cooking, but they put me in auto shop," he said. "It ended up being pretty interesting."
At the start of this school year, Andrew signed up for the NCTC program. He went through an interview process and was selected.
"They told me they'd be watching me because I wasn't always going to class at Channel Islands," he confessed. "They thought that if I was in a military program, I'd do better."
He said he did not know what to expect from the instructors.
"I thought they'd all be drill instructors, yelling and screaming," he said. "It's a lot more relaxed than I thought. It's also harder. There's a lot more bookwork and homework than I expected."
Bright called Andrew a model student who was always on time and willing to learn.
"Andrew is a good example of the type of student we're trying to get in this program," Bright said. "We can provide a lot of guidance for a student who might be struggling in a pure academic environment or who might be having disagreements with authority figures."
Geer said his plans for his future will involve the mechanic for the military?
"I'll probably go into the Navy or the Air Force," he says. "But I want to be an Airborne Ranger or a Navy SEAL. I like pushing everything to the limit, seeing what I can do."
Several of the nine other high school students who have gone through the NCTC program are interning at local car dealerships while finishing high school, and Andrew hopes he can do the same.
"Diesel engines were my favorite," he said. "That's what I hope I can work on."
For more information about the Naval Construction Training Center, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/csfe/hueneme/.
For more news on the Naval Education and Training Command, visit the NETC Website at https://www.netc.navy.mil.
For more news from Naval Education and Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnet/.