By David Gravely
The Pulaski County High School Vocational and Technical Center held a very special ceremony on Wednesday, March 2 to cut the ribbon and officially open a new state-of-the-art welding lab that will be a great benefit to students.
Welding, which is one of 27 programs in seven different career areas offered by the CTE department, has been a very popular program over the years and has grown steadily.
“We are allowed to have a maximum of 20 students in a welding course at a time,” said Megan Atkinson, director of CTE and Governor’s STEM Academy. “This year, we have 95 who were able to be in Welding I, II and/or III. Due to the popularity of the class, we pay Mr. Petty to teach an additional block each year. We have done this for the past four years to meet student demand.
“Students who complete the welding program through Welding III earn their SENSE, Entry-Level Welder certification through the American Welding Society,” Ms. Atkinson said. “Mr. Petty, our instructor, is a CWI (Certified Welding Inspector) and is an Adjunct Instructor at New River Community College. leaving secondary school.
According to Indeed, local entry-level welders in this field start around $15 per hour, but it can also go up to $26 per hour. With a high demand for skilled workers at many local companies such as Volvo, a certified student with a strong work ethic can earn even more.
The new welding laboratory, which houses 20 cabins in which students can work separately, has been an ongoing project for several years.
“The new welding/switchgear lab replacement project for PCHS CTE has been on the list of capital improvement plans for about six years now,” said Chris Stafford, assistant superintendent of finance and business operations. “In the summer of 2016, when I briefly served as Acting Superintendent, Mr. Petty and I, along with some members of the School Board and Board of Supervisors, visited the Giles County CTE Center to examine their state of the art. art welding lab. It was after this tour that Mr. Petty’s vision was added as a priority to our capital improvement plan and it took many years to work on other capital projects and save the necessary funds. to make it a reality.
The total cost of the lab was $1,030,764. This included $212,487 for new welders and stools and $818,277 for other laboratory expenses and new switchgear. The money for this project was taken from the school system’s capital improvement fund. Local businesses have also offered to help with the project. Imperial donated the metal that our students used to make all the tables in each welding booth. The NRC also supported the effort. The drill press and band saw currently in the workshop are on loan from the college.
In addition to welding, which falls under the Trade and Industry program with automotive body technology, automotive technology, building management, carpentry, cosmetology, criminal justice, electrical and television/media production, the PCHS CTE program also offers a wide variety of other programs.
In agricultural science, students can focus on animal science, horticulture, or crop production. In business and information technology, the student can take courses in accounting, computer information systems, computer programming or cybersecurity. Family and Consumer Sciences offers Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education, and the Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow program. Health and medical sciences offer nursing aides, pharmacy technicians, and sports medicine. An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) will be offered starting next year. Marketing offers marketing courses and opportunities. Technology education offers engineering, manufacturing, and robotics.
Each of these courses offers students a chance to earn industry certifications or licenses before they even graduate from high school. The CTE program also strives to find internships for students at local businesses to help students gain real-world work experience in their chosen professions.
PCHS Junior Danielle Bolling, a welding student who recently placed third in the SkillsUSA Welding Competition who helped with the ribbon cutting and is an intern for Mr. Petty, spoke at the event.
“I plan to take the Welding III course next year,” she said. “After graduating, I plan to continue my education at NRC, enter the industry and hone my skills with the goal of one day becoming a welding instructor. I am very excited about the new welding lab, as it will allow more space for individual teaching. This lab will also allow more students to weld in a much safer environment. We will use state-of-the-art Lincoln welding machines which will allow us to perform all three welding processes using one machine. This new lab will greatly enhance the learning opportunities for our students and we are delighted that you are all seeing our new store. »
Before leaving, Ms. Atkinson surprised Bolling by presenting him with her medal from the recent SkillsUSA competition. She also said that when Mr. Petty retires, she hopes to see Bolling again at PCHS as a welding instructor.
As for the cutting of the tape at the welding lab, it seemed entirely appropriate for Mr. Petty to cut the metal tape with a torch. The ribbon will now be displayed at the lab to commemorate the event.
After the ribbon was officially cut, community members and leaders toured the lab. Refreshments were provided by the Culinary Arts Department.