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Richland One receives new trucking simulator for students

Inside the walls of Eau Claire High School, students are getting hands on training to help them get a commercial driver's license.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A program in Richland School District One is offering students a leg up when pursuing a commercial driver's license (CDL). 

Keshawn Hair is not like most students his age. The 18-year-old still has 4 months left of high school, but he's already taken huge leaps in securing a job after graduation by completing his last permit test in pursuing his commercial drivers license.

"When I took my test, there were grown men failing and I'm 18 in there, and I passed," Hair said. "So, it made me feel good about myself."

Hair's advantage? He participated in a program at Eau Claire High School to prepare students for getting a CDL. 

In March, the 45-student program received a big leg up by installing a brand new trucking simulator. 

"With the simulator, we are now able to put hands on, so like space management, speed management hazard prevention," said Class Instructor Augustin Wigfall.

The simulator stands about 6-feet tall, and Wigfall says students can get a feel for dozens of individual trucks and engines without the risk of damaging a vehicle or themselves. The next step is getting students into some of the big rigs provided by the school district and City of Columbia.

Rick Todd, who is the president of the South Carolina Trucking Association, says the world "moves by trucks." He says trucking is universal and a skill needed across the country, adding it can be a lucrative job and offer salaries of up to S100,000.

"Companies are always trying to up their game and get the best drivers they can find," Todd said.

For Hair the next step is simple, finish getting his CDL and then he says the sky is the limit.

"I want to own my own vehicle, potentially start a company, because I have a few friends in here, too," Hair said. "They're trying to pursue the same thing, so that way we wouldn't really have to work for anybody. We could have our own establishment. "I feel like that would be an accomplishment."

Though the program is currently only offered for Eau Claire students, Wigfall says the hope is to expand classes to other students in the district.

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