Salem students unique training in new diesel technician program

Local students could be walking into a six figure salary after graduation

SALEM, Va. – A six figure salary right out of high school. That’s what some local students could be walking into.

A 1985 truck is what students are training on in 2020 at Salem High School.

Senior Braeden Sluss knows he wants to work on cars and the new diesel technician program is giving him a headstart.

“You can come in here, be yourself, work on cars and you get to learn the skills before you even get out of high school,” said Sluss.

FedEx Freight donated a truck during a special ceremony in March, to get them into the 21st century.

“We want to help them learn to work on modern diesel equipment in order to equip them with the abilities once they graduate to be able to go and correctly diagnose and repair,” said Derek Southerland, a FedEx Freight fleet maintenance program advisor for the southeast region.

“What this is going to do ultimately is help keep these kids here in the valley,” said Derek Wray, the Salem High School Automotive and Diesel instructor.

Wray says people are retiring but no one can fill the openings. He’s hoping this fills that gap.

“Training on something like this newer truck and anything heavy equipment related is going to give them an opportunity to go work on construction equipment, any type of over the road truck. The transportation industry is really in serious need for people,” said Wray.

“This has got a modern diesel engine, electronic controlled engine, some electronically-controlled stability systems, traction control and things like that. That’s where the industry is going,” said Southerland.

Students are thankful for the donation.

“It means a lot. You wouldn’t think a big corporation would take the time and money to put something together to give a bunch of high schoolers. A $20,000 truck. Something to work and prepare for our future,” said Sluss.

Salem High School is hoping for other donations too to increase the program.

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