Flandreau school raises money for welding gear

Owen Peters welds during class at Flandreau High School. Teacher Wylie Scalise is seeking donations to buy welding helmets and coats for students because the school supply is not sufficient for the number of students interested in the class and for the safety that is required

A Flandreau High School teacher is reaching out to fill some needs in his welding classroom.
Wylie Scalise, who is the new agriculture teacher this year, is hoping to raise enough money to buy protective welding helmets and coats, along with a few stools, so that students can get the most out of their learning experience. He has posted a goal of $2,539 on a popular website used by teachers, called Donors Choose, in order to by the supplies for his 13 students.
“It’ll definitely help the students learn more welding techniques and welding skills,” he said. “This platform lets us use the internet, and people all over the United States can donate.”
The school has a few helmets, but they are outdated and losing their protective qualities, he said. Because of concerns with COVID-19, the school doesn’t want students to share helmets at this time. He needs the coats so that students don’t get burns in their clothing. The school does have welders, but not enough of each kind, so his next goal is to work on getting additional equipment once the protective gear is in place.
The Welding I course is a semester long, but the program continues with a second semester, too. The larger group of students than normal really want to learn welding skills, he said. He also is open to looking at projects local people may have for students to work on.
“It gives them good working skills, how to work with their hands and critically think,” he said.
One student is so excited about learning how to weld that he went out and bought his own helmet, Scalise said. “I think welding is going to be in his future,” he said.
With more than half of the students considered coming from low-income families, not all of them have a helmet to bring from home or the means to buy their own.
The school has 10 welding booths, four MIG welders and some TIG and stick welders. Next spring, the school district can look at adding equipment purchases in its budget, something the school is very willing to do, he said. There are also other grant opportunities but not any with immediate access.
The demand for career-oriented classes has increased with some grade levels as the school has implemented the state’s new graduation requirements, starting with the class of 2021, said Principal Nichole Herzog. Students are able to get a career endorsement on their diploma for taking a cluster of different career classes, for example.
“This year we had a lot of interest in welding,” she said, a class that wasn’t offered last year. “We’re kind of seeing where our students’ interests are at and adapting to that.”
To donate, follow the link on the Flandreau FFA Facebook page.

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