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Havre auto students headed to nationals

Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson

Havre High School seniors Jaden Griggs, left, and Nate Welch hold their first-place trophy they earned at the Ford/AAA Students Auto Skills state competition at the beginning of this month. For the first time in the school's history, the duo earned first place at the state competition, and will be moving on to the 62nd Annual National Finals competition in Deerborn, Mich., in June.

For most students, just not going to school is enough to make summer worth looking forward to. For Havre High School students Nate Welch and Jaden Griggs, it's a trip to Detroit to represent Montana in a national automotive technology competition that they are looking forward to.

Welch and Griggs won first place, among 20 students from nine schools, in the statewide Fifth Annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition in Helena two weeks ago, which not only qualified them for the national contest, but won them thousands of dollars in scholarships and new tools for them and the Havre High.

The June competition ups the stakes even higher.

According to the students' teacher Garret Neiffer, the boys could win an opportunity to job shadow in the pits at NASCAR's Mecca, Daytona Beach, and "scholarship money through the roof. "

"We're real proud of the guys, " Neiffer said. "It's a life changer for them. "

The state competition started with a car with "about 10 or 11 different bugs, " in it, according to Neiffer. Welch and Griggs were the first team to drop the hood and declare themselves done. The judges checked their work and found they'd done it.

This is the first time Havre has won the first prize, having achieved a few second or third places in the past.

"We talk and hear people talk about college and career readiness, " Havre Public Schools Superintendent Andy Carlson said. "This competition is really what this is about.

"We've had a few kids knock on the door, and we've had a few second places. This is our first first. Other students will see, 'yeah, we can win this in Havre. ' And these students have really opened some doors for themselves.

"I'm very proud of both of them and Mr. Neiffer and their program. "


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