The Advanced Manufacturing Program at Whitesboro High School recently got a special donation for its planned summer class at Grayson College.

Whitesboro High AMP teacher Melanie Parker recently received $800 in Lone Star Food Store gas cards from Douglass Distributing CEO Brad Douglass so Parker and four of her students can take an AMP class this summer at Grayson College’s Denison campus. The program aims to equip high school students with the skills and experience they need to land jobs in the industrial sector.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates explained earlier this month that manufacturing accounts for 15 percent of all the available jobs in Grayson County, but many of the employees who currently hold those positions are approaching the end of their careers.

The AMP program got off the ground in 2016 and is currently comprised of 30 area industrial employers, as well as Workforce Solutions Texoma, the Sherman Economic Development Corp., Denison Development Alliance, Grayson College and the four high schools of Sherman, Denison Pottsboro and Whitesboro. The program begins with sophomore-level students, who undergo a year of classes at their respective campuses before moving on as juniors and seniors to hands-on work at Grayson College and an internship with an employer. An estimated 42 students started the program during the 2017-2018 academic year. Four students are expected to graduate from the program next year.

Parker and her students taking the class this summer will allow them to better fit its requirements into their new school year beginning in the fall. Whitesboro is providing a vehicle for them to go back and forth to the Grayson College campus, but didn’t have room in its budget to pay for gas for the trips. Douglass’ donation will cover the district’s gas expenses for the summer class.