Two Hamilton High School seniors are getting prepared for life through a brand new pilot program, believed to be the first of its kind in West Michigan. Max Brink and Gabe Mast have been attending daily classes at FCG Truck Driving School in Byron Center for the past three weeks, learning everything from the shift pattern, proper safety inspection, parts on the trucks, angles of the trailer, and of course, getting experience on the roadways.

“After numerous conversations with local business partners, the need for workers with a Commercial Drivers License became very apparent in our community,” said Hamilton Community Schools Work Based Learning coordinator, Ashley Meyer. “Upon completion of truck driving school and passing their tests next week, these students will not only graduate with a Hamilton High School diploma, but also their CDL.”

Bill Baareman, owner and president of FCG Truck Driving School says in his 24 years of experience in the industry, he hasn’t seen high school students get this opportunity.

“It is very rare to have two seniors still in school obtain their CDL prior to graduation,” Baareman added. “Most of our students don’t get to us until they’re at least 19 years of age because they find their career first and then realize they need to get their CDL and have to miss work to do that.”

Instead, this Hamilton Community Schools pilot program took two students who knew they were going right into the workforce and needed a CDL and afforded them the opportunity to get it done during the school day.

“I think this is really unique,” Brink said, “To get the opportunity to actually work towards our career while we’re still in high school is awesome.”

Baareman says not only are the two students succeeding on the road, the instructors have had conversations with each of them about testing out early. After completing their 160 hours of drive time and various other trainings over the past few weeks, they are both scheduled to take their road test on Tuesday, May 7.

“This is a big help and it’s definitely nice to have this done with getting out of high school,” Mast said, “We’re working towards our careers now instead of taking a month off of work after graduation. In our community, there are some kids who aren’t interested in college or can’t go to college. The Work Based Learning program allows us to work and do the things we love, I think that’s great for the community and the students enjoy that.”

Thank you to all of our community partners and FCG Truck Driving School for making this awesome opportunity possible!

This story was also covered by The Holland Sentinel and WZZM 13 On Your Side!

Holland Sentinel Article

WZZM 13 Video & Article