By Linda Looney-Bond
Three-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson's number 48 Impala SS roared into the building-and-construction-trade classroom at Lovejoy High School Friday morning to a round of applause.
Johnson made the appearance to launch the nationwide Tough Tools for Cool Schools program. The program is an initiative of Lowe's Home Improvement and Kobalt tools, designed to benefit the next generation of skilled, trade professionals, according to Tara Gudger, spokesperson for Johnson's race team.
Lowe's is donating approximately $300,000 worth of Kobalt tools to more than 500 Skills USA building and construction trades classes across the country, Gudger said. Skills USA is a national, non-profit organization of students, teachers and industry members, working together to ensure that America has a skilled work force.
During Friday's press conference at the high school, Lowe's officials marked the launch of the nationwide program by presenting the first set of tools to Lovejoy High School.
"My shop class was very important to my high school education," said Johnson, during the press conference. "I had a welding class ... an autoshop class, and a drafting class, and that kept me focused," he said, during an interview after the event.
"The number 48 team knows how important it is to have the right tools to be successful," Johnson said. "This program is great, because we are literally putting those tools in the hands of students who need them and can use them to further their education."
Lovejoy senior, Chaz Washington, 19, has participated in the school's building-and-construction class for four years. He said the donation will make a difference, especially for younger students, who are just beginning to take the class. "More kids [will] get to learn more, and get to do more, with better tools. Our tools are getting kind of old," he said.
Washington credits the class with helping him plan future goals. "I plan to be an electrician. After high school, I plan on going to Georgia Tech. I plan to be my own boss in the future," he said.
The kit being donated to schools is valued at approximately $600, according to Gudger.
Each school will receive:
·Five 16 ounce claw hammers.
·Five utility knives.
·Five 25-foot Tape Measures.
·Five 6-in-1 screwdrivers.
·Five 15-inch hand saws.
·Five 3-piece adjustable wrench sets (6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch wrenches).
·Five 12-inch adjustable wrenches.
·Five 5-piece pliers sets (variety of sizes of pliers and cutters).
·Five universal SpeedFit Chucks.
·One Kobalt Rolling Tool Chest.