SYRACUSE — Anthony Cannon had not taken any of the career and technical education classes offered through the Pathways cooperative prior to his junior year. He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to pursue after high school.
But now the Wawasee High School senior, in his second year of the welding program, has pretty much decided he will work as a welder after high school and also eventually work with machines in some form.
Welding was first offered during the 2016-17 school year in a small area of the CTE building on the WHS campus and six students participated. Roughly six weeks ago, students were moved to the new welding shop in the former VFW building on Chicago Street in Syracuse. Presently there are nine students in the morning class and 15 in the afternoon, which is about half the capacity of the building.
Juniors and seniors can enroll in the program. Two of the students are from Columbia City High School, the rest are Wawasee students.
Jeremiah Paseka, welding program instructor, said the intent is to have first year students work on various welding projects found in a blueprint binder. Those projects could involve building something for the shop, repairing something for a school staff member or local business or other projects.
In the second year, students earn certifications and it is hoped they can be launched into work based learning with a local company.
Paseka said students are taught the four most common forms of welding: shielded metal arc, flux core, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc. “They are given about 10 projects on each process in the two-year program,” he said. “They can earn certifications in each process,” for a total of four certifications.
Cannon is earning his certifications in welding. Among other projects, he built a square firepit out of steel and metal. “There is something about it, you are just on your own,” he said of welding. “I like it better than sitting behind a computer.”
Welding allows a person to have some creativity in what they build, he said, even after being taught the different techniques. Paseka said some students are better with hands-on learning and don’t function as well in classroom situations.
Moving into the new building has meant not only more space, but opportunities for growth. “We have more capacity to cut and prep metal,” Paseka said. “We can keep the students busy.”
There are two booths in each of the six welding stations for a total of 12 booths and two students can be seated in a booth for a total capacity of 24.
Several school corporations in the area do not offer welding programs, but exceptions are the Warsaw Area Career Center, Elkhart Area Career Center and the Impact Institute in Kendallville.