FAIRMONT – The Summer Welding Academy is now held at Fairmont High School. The three-week program is open to anyone interested in the region, adults or students.
The course is taught by Bob Bonin, who teaches several CTE courses at Fairmont High School including auto repair, mechatronics and welding. Bonin said they started offering summer welding courses in 2017.
“They last three weeks. We go from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. They have about an hour of homework on things like safety and reading maps ”, Bonin explained.
In winter, Saturday welding courses are offered over a period of 15 weeks for a total of 60 hours.
“They both attract each other differently. Saturday classes attract more adults due to their working hours, but in the summer we try to attract students who may be short of credits or who haven’t been able to fit them into their schedule for the school year “, said Bonin.
He said they hold classes in the mornings so students can still get a summer job if they have one.
Bonin acknowledged that this summer’s course is different from any he has seen before.
“It is by far the most diverse we have ever had”, said Bonin.
Nineteen students are currently enrolled in the program. This includes 11 from Fairmont, with a mix of grade levels and multiple adults, two from Arise Academy, one from Martin County West, one from Blue Earth, two from Truman, one from Elmore, and one from Bancroft, Iowa.
In the past, they have hosted many students from Blue Earth and some from Granada Huntley-East Chain, as well as Martin Luther. Bonin said they’ve never had people from Iowa before.
There are also three girls in the class, one of whom is Blue Earth Area ninth grade Marie Carr.
“My older brother took this course and I might want a job in the field later”, Carr explained.
While the majority of people in the class are still college students, there are a few recent graduates in the class, including Devin Haase, who just graduated from Martin West County.
Haase said he had completed four semesters of welding, but wanted to take the summer program through Fairmont for more experience. He plans to look for field work after the program ends.
“We bought a few from Arise Academy and I think it’s good that they are in town now, as we will also start to see more during the school year. “ said Bonin.
Bonin said they advertise the classes through the REB, which publishes the information in order to reach adults, and that an email is sent to zone superintendents so they can let interested students know.
Despite the diversity of the class, Bonin said they all got along well and helped each other.
“They’re not ostracized just because they’re from Blue Earth or Iowa. They help each other and give each other feedback. said Bonin.
Upon completion of the program, students will earn class credit. Everyone will receive a 60-hour certificate, including adults, so that they can integrate into the job market.
“We have about four adults who plan to enter the workforce right after class,” said Bonin.
He explained that the safety training they use is OSHA 10 compliant and reading the plan they are taught will help anyone enter the workforce or continue their education.
Fairmont Area School Superintendent Joe Brown said: “We are doing exactly what we talked about, being a regional vocational center and this class is certainly showing that that is becoming a reality.”
“I think this is a taste of what we’re going to see with the expansion”, Bonin said, referring to the expanded vocational center that the high school is adding. The 13,200 square foot building will be located on the south side of the high school building, adjacent to the existing professional area. Occupancy is scheduled for summer 2022.
Not only will students from the Fairmont area use the new skills training center, it will be open to students from other school districts in the area, much like the summer and Saturday welding academies.