It's every teacher's dream: teaching a class so popular that a second section has to be offered!
How will you know that [welding] is or isn't for you unless you have the opportunity to try it out in high school, at least a little?
Mike Willing, the assistant principal, is living that dream. Methods in Metalworking is the first class to be offered in the new Leon Ingraham Industrial Arts/CTS Building at Mamawi Atosketan Junior and Senior High School, and a second teacher, Arden Kay, has been pulled in to teach the second section of the fall semester class.
It's been a practical, hands-on class from Day 1, with students helping to install the equipment, even building the welding tables. "Our capacity is state of the art," says Mike, who is pleased that about half of the enrolled students are female.
When I visit the class, two girls are donning welding jackets, ready to get down to some heavy metal clean-up so they can get on with using a plasma cutter to create the shiny version of their own designs. They tell me they really like this class, and even stay back a few minutes after it's over to let me take a photo.
Mike takes me to the neatly organized store room of scrap metal that William Piersanti, who built the high school, brought from northern Alberta. "No public school in Alberta provides metal in their classes," says Mike, "but this makes it possible for us to do that for years to come." The scrap, which was purchased at a deep discount, will provide students with the raw material they need to practice and make the projects they are eager to create.
"The welding class has generated a lot of interest," says Gail Wilton, the school's principal. For one student, who has struggled in other classes, welding is the highlight of the day, and time in the WCB Welding Foundation welding shop is highly valued. He was, in fact, unhappy when horsing around by some of his classmates caused the hands-on time to be shortened one day—a reaction to class horseplay his teachers hadn't seen in him before.
WCB Welding Foundation spokesperson Cody Vigeant, who attended the opening of the high school in September, continues to be connected with the school and its new program, looking for opportunities to help as the welding program gets underway.
"It's great to have that relationship," says Mike. "We look forward to continuing to work with the foundation and building a really strong program and interest in welding as a possible career."
As donor Dr. Richard Bird, who funded the Bird Construction Building Technologies Shop next door in the new school building, observed, industrial arts/trade education is focused on the very practical career opportunity side of things. "It certainly won't be for everyone," he says in his remarks written for the high school opening, "but how will you know that it is or isn't for you unless you have the opportunity to try it out in high school, at least a little?"