Sparking interest


Local News

December 16, 2019 - 10:01 AM

This is the second in a series of articles about USD 257?s Career and Technical Education program.


Students in Blaine Crellin?s welding classes at the Regional Rural Technology Center at LaHarpe this year are especially focused and motivated, and they rarely goof off.


Gather five of them in a group, and they?ll start giving each other a good-natured hard time. 

Take Jake Damron, a junior at Iola High School. 

He failed his last weld test. It must have been quite a spectacular failure, based on the amount of grief his classmates gave him over it.

?I keep thinking about Jake?s test earlier that snapped in half,? Callie Murcko, a junior, said.

?You won?t get it on your first try,? Dylon Reiter interjected, coming to Damron?s defense. 

?It?s challenging passing the tests,? Damron said.

His classmates snickered.

?It?s hard,? he said, and the snickering grew louder.

?You either pass or you don?t. You have to weld two pieces together and they cut two strips out of it, and then bend it. If it breaks, you don?t pass. My last one didn?t pass.?

The students broke into full howls of laughter at the memory.

?You go back and practice until you can do it right,? Damron continued. ?It might take a couple tries.?

The students relented from their playful teasing. They?ve known each other for most of their lives, and have an easy friendship. They all nodded in agreement at Damron?s last statement.

?It takes an average of about two times to pass your weld test,? Reiter said. 

There?s no way to cheat at welding, Crellin explained. It takes time and practice, practice and more practice. 

?In this field, if you want to be successful it takes hours and hours under the welding hood. Practice makes perfect,? he said. 

He starts students on the easiest welding positions, gradually increasing in difficulty from flat to horizontal and vertical, then overhead welding and finally introducing them to pipe welding. They?ll learn the different types of welding, from wire to stick to tig and mig to pipe. 

Students will earn college credits and a certificate that will allow them to go straight into the workforce or continue their education.

Murcko, for example, plans to attend the Missouri Welding Institute in Nevada, Mo., after graduation. She wants to join a pipeline crew or boilermaker?s union.

Some of her classmates, including juniors Skyler Suchy and Kole Rogers, plan careers in welding, but haven?t entirely decided whether to continue at a trade school.

The students who come out of the RRTC have a huge advantage, Crellin said. The class teaches students about different types of welding and positions, as well as various techniques and skills.