At 9:00 on Monday morning, senior Jason Campbell walks in the Career & Technological Education Center (CTEC) building, picks up his torch and sparks fly as he begins to weld.
Campbell began taking welding classes his junior year. He was inspired by his father to enroll at CTEC after finding out the opportunities available.
“Personally I chose the welding program because my dad was a welder and I thought it was a great profession through my dad’s experiences with welding,” Campbell said.
Campbell’s welding class alternates days doing specific types of welding, such as flux core and TIG, on designated days.
“What I do in class is pretty much weld all the way through the class period,” Campbell said. “Whatever day it is, I weld that certain process and kind of keep to myself because of course this class is designed for you to certify in a welding field, not mess around the entire time.”
After completing 24 credit hours over two years, Campbell will receive certification in welding.
“I’m planning on using my certification to not only expand my resume, but also help me get a welding job while I’m taking college classes after high school,” Campbell said.
In addition to welding, PHS students can take classes to earn certifications in auto tech, CPR, EMT, CNA, construction, masonry and a safety training course known as OSHA 10. Following in the footsteps of his uncle and brother, senior Grant Oehme studies masonry at CTEC.
“[I think masonry is important because] there’s always a building around that needs repaired,” Oehme said.
In Oehme’s masonry class, students are assigned projects such as building walls from brick or cinder block. After graduating high school, Oehme plans to use his certification in a career in masonry.
“It’s a good skill to know,” Oehme said. “Same with carpentry and welding, it’s just really interesting and once you get to know it, you’re just a beast at it.”
According to CTEC director Kris Mengarelli, the benefits of getting a certification in high school are not only gaining a skill, but also getting a job paying higher than minimum wage straight out of high school.
“We’ve had a student who did all the masonry and carpentry and he [used those to work] through pre-med and has zero college debt,” Mengarelli said. “And someday when he owns his own house and wants to pour a patio, he doesn’t have to hire somebody else to do it.”
CTEC students go off campus to the CTEC building for two hours every day. Students interested in getting certifications can enroll for free through their counselor.
“These certifications benefit students because most give them the opportunity for specific employment directly upon graduating high school,“ counselor Gina Ulbrich said.
Currently, there are 15 students from PHS taking classes at CTEC through Fort Scott Community College and 39 students enrolled in auto tech through PHS.