Courtesy: Anniston Star (5/17/2023)
Writer: Bill Wilson

A job skills endeavor at Anniston High School known as the Modern Manufacturing Program held a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning in front of a new Honda pickup that was donated by Honda Alabama.

The truck will allow students in the program to get hands-on experience by disassembling and reassembling the vehicle. MMP is made possible through a partnership with Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and East Alabama Works.

Abby Howle, MMP project manager with East Alabama Works, said the state of Alabama in partnership with all the automotive OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) across the state launched the program to add manufacturing into the high school career tech curriculum to help build up the supply of employees with the knowledge base to work in the field of industrial manufacturing.

Oxford High School is the only other school in the county that has a MMP, Howle said.

“Anniston City Schools is offering this program and we have lots of industry support primarily through the Honda Alabama auto plant and they have agreed to interview for direct hires, seniors who graduate out of this program,” she said.

Howle said the students can be hired automatically and become full-time employees at a manufacturing plant that circumvents staffing agencies that require a two-year term.

“They have all the available benefits such as 401k and health insurance that they would not otherwise be afforded without participating in this program,” Howle said.

Howle said the truck donated by Honda will affect the school’s MMP.

“This is so awesome to have all this industry support for them, they’re getting a brand-new vehicle donated to them so they can learn the assembly process and so whenever they get go to work in the manufacturing industry they will have some hands-on experience,” Howle said, “So it’s great to see this investment into Anniston City Schools by our local industry.”

“This curriculum that they’re taking in school has been specifically written by our local business and industry partners,’ she said.
The Anniston High cheerleaders added pageantry to the occasion by cheering before the Honda pickup arrived. Once the truck arrived 50 or so people gathered by the vehicle for the ribbon cutting.

Jeff Ragsdale, MMP teacher at the school, said the program is only 4 months old and 16 had enrolled. Out of the 16 students 15 of them are already certified and job-ready, he said.

“It gives them a chance to have an introduction to career trades — trade careers for construction and manufacturing to have exposure, it gives them accredited credentials that they can take with them,” Ragsdale said.

“One of the things I’m trying to do is to imprint on the kids and let them know there’s still noble trades here, ample opportunity and try to give them some introduction to the skill trades and let them know they’re capable, through the hands-on teaching and the credentials that they’ll earn through our program,” he said.

Christopher Howard, career tech director, spoke to the students and business partners after the ribbon cutting in the school’s auditorium.
Howard thanked all the partners and said the program is an amazing opportunity for the students.

“Our goal here at Anniston High School is to ensure that our students are prepared to be lifelong learners, we’re continuing our efforts and expanding our programs, our educational opportunities to see them exceed and go to the next level, we’re constantly looking for opportunities and ways to grow,” Howard said.

Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.