George Junior Republic board members approved $200,000 last month for improvements to auto body, auto mechanic and education programs for its youths.

Everything academic at the live-in facility for court adjudicated boys in Pine Township falls under Grove City schools but the GJR board wanted to "help the kids," said Principal James Anderson.

"George Junior didn't have to do this," he said at Grove City school board's workshop meeting on Feb. 6, and after the school board's regular meeting on Monday.

"Good things are happening there. We have a good relationship with them."

Nearly $80,000 will be used to install two digital technology labs in about four weeks at GJR's main education center.

Although rooms were built to accommodate two labs at the center, there's never been equipment to put in them to play and create music and videos.

The many boys from Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh area are interested in making urban music, but having lab skills can take that interest to colleges and trade schools, and to careers beyond the streets, Anderson said.

"They can use it in TV studios, music studios, any kind of music mixing," he said. "Companies are going in this direction now."

About $75,000 of the award will be used to install a paint booth in the auto body shop at GJR.

The current paint booth is located in an enclosed area and kids can't be properly supervised, so it isn't used by the majority of the student body, Anderson said. That makes it hard to teach kids how to paint vehicles.

"It's antiquated," he added, and the current paint booth doesn't have the updated water-born paint system to make vehicles look good "and allow more kids to be certified to paint."

The old paint booth will be reconstruction for better supervision, along with the newer technology, Anderson noted. In auto body, a new wheel-alignment system will be installed with about $48,000 of the money.

The shop doesn't have wheel alignment, and the new system will be the same as ones used at car dealerships; enabling students to be certified and job-ready right out of high school, Anderson added.

The equipment for both auto programs will be installed inĀ  the summer.

The GJR board reached out to Anderson through its CEO about the needs of the facility's education programs a couple of months ago.

The principal picked representatives to think those over during the holiday break, and they came back to school with their post-Christmas wish lists.

"I was excited about it," Anderson said.

The $200,000 award "was a gracious act on the part of the George Junior board. It shows they really care about the kids here. They didn't have to donate that money, but they saw a need."

Published Feb. 15, 2012, in Allied News, Grove City. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St.

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