While high school is the place that prepares you for college – for some students, the welding department at Pocahontas County High School is the equivalent of college.
Students interested in becoming professional welders may take classes at the high school and can receive five certifications that are equal to those given at technical or trade schools.
Welding teacher Dervin Lambert said it is possible for a student to leave PCHS prepared to enter the workforce as a fully trained welder.
“[Certification] is one of those things – if you’re going to become a welder and you have certification – you’re most likely to get the job over somebody who doesn’t,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of going to college.”
It isn’t an easy task to become certified, but Lambert said it is well worth it if students want to be professional welders.
“Really, it’s the willingness to put the time into it and be dedicated to doing it,” he said. “It’s not easy at all.”
In the past month, two students – seniors Cody McCarty and Birch Loudermilk – have achieved certification.
Welding didn’t come naturally for McCarty, but it was a trade he was dedicated to learn.
“It’s something I like to do, and there’s money in it,” he said. “It’s a skill that comes to some people. I took awhile.”
After graduation, McCarty and Loudermilk plan to enter the workforce as welders.
“I’m going wherever it takes me,” McCarty said.
The task may sound easy – take steel strips, weld them and bend them on the weld – but it is something that takes finesse, skill and talent.
“These are strips cut out and they are bending them right in the weld,” Lambert said. “The bend is actually right on the weld. They weld them, cut them and put them in the bend. It is not something they got on their first go-round.”
PCHS is unique in offering certification. In more populated areas of the state, students have to travel to a technical center to take classes.
“I graduated from here with certification,” Lambert said. “I don’t know how many high schools in the state actually certify. Most of the places, you’ve got to go to their technical centers and they teach adults as well as high school students.”
Lambert’s students all strive to reach the goal McCarty and Loudermilk achieved.
“Every student I have in here has tried, and it’s not easy at all,” Lambert said. “They’re working on it.”
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com