Every morning at school, 10 area high students cause some sparks in the classroom.
Horry County schools, in collaboration with Horry Georgetown Technical College, chose the 10 to participate in the inaugural Technical Scholars Welding Program class. Five students are from Early College High School – which is located on HGTC’s campus – and five are from Carolina Forest High School.
“The beauty of this program is that these students graduate with a high school degree and a welding certificate,” said Dr. Shirley Butler, assistant vice president of academic affairs at HGTC. “It’s a win-win.”
The course is managed by Jeff Ball, professor and professional welder. He said this program gives students the ability to work in the industry right after high school.
“We give them the skills needed to place them in the workplace immediately after earning a certificate,” Ball said. “That’s one of the biggest benefits – they have training experience.”
The high school students will take the class for two semesters – their whole senior year – and can decide to take a third semester in the summer to earn an HGTC Advanced Welding Certificate. The summer course is not funded through Horry County Schools.
Ball said welding is important in many different fields, and is especially needed along the Grand Strand. PTR Industries, which moved its gun manufacturing plant to Aynor in January, is a good example of future welding possibilities, Ball said.
“There’s more than just industrial-type settings for welders, too,” Ball said. “There’s a great need for ornamental iron welders who can make a good living.”
The class meets every weekday from 8 through 10:30 a.m., and counts for several high school elect credits. The students attend base high school courses in the afternoon.
“The best thing is getting out of class each morning, and doing something new,” said Carolina Forest High School senior Timothy Cook.
Adjunct Instructor Randy Jenkins, who teaches the morning class of high schoolers, said the students enjoy getting out from behind a computer screen and working with their hands.
“This gives them a chance to do something physical, and they like it so much more than sitting in a classroom,” Jenkins said. “Not everybody wants to sit in front of a computer all day.”
Three students from North Myrtle Beach Christian School are also enrolled in the course, Linda Adams, principal, said.
Albert DeLisio, senior at Early College High School, said he definitely doesn’t enjoy sitting in a classroom all day.
“It’s a great program, and you get to hang out with friends and weld things all morning,” DeLisio said.
“I also like how it can be a bit dangerous, but that makes it fun,” DeLisio said.