Tropicana graduates new pre-apprenticeship class

The graduating class of 2016, with representatives of some of the program's sponsors. Check out the gallery below for more photos!
By Mike Davey
Toronto, Ontario — September 2, 2016 — A number of new technicians are on their way into the collision repair industry, thanks to the Tropicana Community Services Pre-Apprenticeship program, its sponsors and their own hard work. The graduation ceremony for this year’s class took place at The Radisson Hotel in Toronto, Ont. 
The event kicked off with an opening address by Marc Tremblay, the program’s coordinator and emcee for the graduation ceremony. He thanked the program’s sponsors for their continued support. In addition to grants from the province, industry has stepped up to support the program’s efforts. The program’s sponsors include CARSTAR, MAX Auto Supply, Key Colour, CIIA, I-CAR and Collision Repair magazine. 
Tremblay introduced a short video featuring program participants thanking the various sponsors, before welcoming Peter Wrong of 3M to the podium. Wrong congratulated the grads for their achievements, and welcomed them to the collision repair industry. 
“I really look forward to seeing you guys in the shops,” he said. “It’s a great career to be in.”
John Norris of Collision Industry Information Assistance (CIIA) was the next sponsor to take the stage. Norris discussed the difference between a job and a career, noting that the newly-minted Level I apprentices were on the career track. He also highlighted how the industry has developed and evolved and continues to do so, with new technology being introduced on a constant basis. 
Norris also announced that in addition to the training the program’s participants had already received through Centennial College, each could attend one of CIIA’s Basic Estimating courses completely free of charge. He also presented a donation of $1,200 to Tropicana on behalf of CIIA. 
Industry sponsors have been generous to the program, donating money, equipment and tools to the students. I-CAR has stepped up its contribution this year. Andrew Shepherd of I-CAR presented I-CAR scholarships to five students from the program: Daniel Lara, Jesse Ellul, Kevin Samlall, Christopher Abdul and Daryl Romano. The scholarships will take the fledgling techs to Platinum Status. 
Two local politicians who have long supported the program couldn’t be at the event, but made an appearance by video. Doug Ford, former Toronto City Councillor, and John Tory, the current Mayor, both spoke on the program’s importance and congratulated the participants.
All of the program’s participants have reason to be proud of their achievements, but one student, Christopher Abdul, deserves special mention. He was first called to the stage to accept the CARSTAR Best-in-Class Award, presented by Collin Welsh of CARSTAR. 
This is the first year for this award. Students were ranked in four areas: grade point average, attendance, interaction and leadership. Each of these criteria formed up to 25 percent of the total score. The last two, interaction and leadership, are subjective marks given out by the students’ instructors. The final tally placed Christopher Abdul in the front. 
This wasn’t the last time during the evening that Abdul was singled out. He also received the Director’s Award. Throughout the run of the program, Abdul didn’t miss a single day, was never late and frequently stayed after class to ensure his homework was done. We suspect we’ll be hearing more from this young man in the future. 
The graduating students have cleared the first hurdle of becoming fully licensed. However, they still have to complete Level II and Level III to become fully certified technicians. Tropicana and its sponsors unveiled a new program last night that will encourage them to do so. 
Tremblay called some of the program’s alumni from past years to the stage to discuss this new addition to the program. In essence, graduates of the program who show that they have completed Level II and Level III of their apprenticeship will receive a donation from the program towards 3M equipment. This donation will be matched by 3M, thereby significantly lowering the cost to the student. 
For more information on the Tropicana Community Services Pre-Apprenticeship program, please click here

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