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HHS welding course promotes job training

Brewer junior Jason Brown sends sparks flying from a welding torch as he competes in a welding jamboree in Hartselle Thursday. | Clif Knight
Brewer junior Jason Brown sends sparks flying from a welding torch as he competes in a welding jamboree in Hartselle Thursday. | Clif Knight

The implementation of a dual enrollment welding program at Hartselle High School is giving students a step up as they pursue plans to enter the workforce after earning an associate degree at Calhoun Community College.

The program currently has 18 juniors and seniors enrolled. They attend class in the former agri-science building on the Hartselle Junior High School campus from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Their instructor is Zeb Ferguson, who teaches welding at Calhoun.

“A student that enrolls as a junior and successfully completes the two-year course in high school can enroll at Calhoun with half a year of course work behind them,” said Ferguson. “After a year and one-half of college credit, they can earn the associate degree and enter the labor force as an entry level welder at $15 to $20 per hour.”

Ferguson said the program was made possible at Hartselle High by a grant Decatur City Schools received to expand the welding program outside of Decatur. The grant was used to equip the old vo-ag shop with enough modern welding equipment to accommodate 18 students.

“We had no problem filling the class when it was announced last school year,” Ferguson pointed out. “It has received excellent support from Superintendent Dr. Vic Wilson and HHS Principal Jeff Hyche, and I expect it to continue to grow as more students learn about the advantages offered by a welding career.”

He said employers have an open invitation to visit the classroom/shop to talk to the students and observe their welding skills.

Enrolled in the first year class are Davey Burnett, Tom Chapman, Brad Bloodworth, Kade Chaney, Drew Copeland, Tyler Fuqua, Emily Marsh, Dillan Martin, TJ. Maddox, Justin Mayfield, J.J. Meherg, Ryan Nicholson, Peyton Bryan, Stewart Sebastion, Chandler Weaver, Clay Wilson and Alex Martin.

“I had in interest in welding and was glad to see the program started at Hartselle High,” said senior Justin Mayfield. “I want to go on to Calhoun so it’s a step up for my career goal.”

“I’ve always been looked at as a tomboy, said senior Emily Marsh, one of two girls in the class. “I enjoy working with my hands and helping my dad on different projects. I thought this was a great class to give my career a jump start since I plan to attend Calhoun after graduation.”

The welding classes at Hartselle and Brewer High School were spotlighted at a friendly welding cookout and competition on the junior high campus Thursday.

Winners were recognized in first and second year divisions. First year class winners were Hartselle’s Justin Mayfield, first; Drew Copeland, second; and Alex Martin, third. Second year winners from Brewer were Tyler Hammock, first; Easton Hopper, second; and Blake King, third.

Kylie Cook, a junior at Priceville High School, was among more than 25 welding students from Hartselle, Brewer, Danville and Priceville that competed in a welding jamboree in Hartselle Thursday. | Clif Knight
Kylie Cook, a junior at Priceville High School, was among more than 25 welding students from Hartselle, Brewer, Danville and Priceville that competed in a welding jamboree in Hartselle Thursday. | Clif Knight
These five first year welding students wait their turn to demonstrate their welding skills at a welding jamboree in Hartselle Thursday evening. Pictured, from left, are: Blake King and Tyler Hammock, both of Brewer, Stuart Reding, Priceville, and Sebastion Stewart and Ryan Nicholson. | Clif Knight
These five first year welding students wait their turn to demonstrate their welding skills at a welding jamboree in Hartselle Thursday evening. Pictured, from left, are: Blake King and Tyler Hammock, both of Brewer, Stuart Reding, Priceville, and Sebastion Stewart and Ryan Nicholson. | Clif Knight
Hartselle High senior Justin Mayfield competes in a welding competition at a welding shop on the Hartselle Junior High campus Thursday evening. | Clif Knight
Priceville junior Kylie Cook competes in a welding competition at a welding shop on the Hartselle Junior High campus Thursday evening. | Clif Knight

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