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Sparking interest: 3 high school welding students to compete at state competition

Widefield School District 3 crafting passion for successful career in high-demand industry
Posted at 7:43 AM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 09:43:35-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Three students in the Widefield School District 3 are practicing their craft every day at the district's Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab (MiLL). They hope their hard work will lead to a state championship.

The team won regionals for welding an adjustable stool. The experience awakened enthusiasm for careers in the industry, according to some students.

"I just feel like a kid in a candy store," Mesa Ridge High School senior Niko Pucci said. "I have the opportunity to do all this different stuff, all these different skills that I could use the rest of my life."

Another senior at Mesa Ridge, Bryson Cleveland, said he wants to make welding his career after graduation.

"You're hands-on, you're cutting metal, you're welding it together, I mean it's more entertaining than doing office work," Cleveland said.

As a growing industry, the need for more experienced workers never stops, Rob Morlan, and employee at Integrity Welding & Fabrication in Colorado Springs, said.

He's been in the field for about 35 years.

"We do seem to not respond to a lot of jobs that we could if we had trained employees to go into that area," Morlan said.

Jeremy Reichl thanks the district for his success in the trade.

"If I needed to pick up the phone right now, I could probably have a job in 15 minutes and it all started with having really good instructors,"aReichl said. "[Looking back] at all the students in our classes, I can't think of any that aren't successful."

Reichl graduated from Widefield High School in 1990. He said he's glad the welding program is still in full force.

Through the MiLL, welding students earn an OSHA safety certification upon graduation.

But first, eyes are on the prize - winning the state title.

"It would mean a lot, like it'd probably be one of the best accomplishments I've had in my life," Pucci said.

The state competition is in Pueblo on April 9 and 10.

High school students prepare for state welding competition