SYRACUSE — In the fall, the Wawasee school board approved the donation of the former Veterans of Foreign Wars building on Chicago Street in Syracuse to the school corporation.
Plans are moving forward for the building to be gutted and transformed into a facility for advanced manufacturing classes. A decision has been made to have welding classes for junior and senior high school students in the morning and afternoon, then classes for adults in the evening beginning with the 2017-18 school year, said Jon Everingham, director of the Pathways program of the Wawasee Area Career and Technical Cooperative.
Welding I and II two students would be mixed together in the morning and afternoon sessions, he said. Then in the evening adults can be trained and possibly earn needed certifications.
Welding has been identified by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development as a higher wage, high in demand career path, Everingham noted. There are several local companies who use welders, he added.
Eventually in later years, CNC machining and lathe classes will be added.
Architectural work has been finished and the next step will be the bidding process for construction. Work will not likely start until the school year is finished, meaning there will be a tight schedule to have everything ready by the start of the school year in August. In the event the building is not ready, welding classes will continue to be held in the career tech building on the Wawasee High School campus.
The front area of the building will be classroom space and there will also be a welcome center, locker rooms, bathrooms, welding booths and more. As part of the project, 12 welding booths will be purchased and more equipment will be added such as brakes, shears and grinders. A grant has helped pay for the equipment.
Also being discussed is the possibility of giving space to post secondary institutions such as Ivy Tech and others. They could utilize the space for an office. “We hope to utilize the building all day, every day,” Everingham said.
He also noted the welding classes will be open to any junior or senior high school students within roughly a 30-mile radius, though first preference will be given to co-op schools. “It is a half-day program,” he said. “They would come here for half the day and then return to their school for the other half.”