Last week Thomson High School cut the ribbon on its welding lab, which operates as part of the school’s CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) program.

The 10-bay lab opened with the start of the school year and instruction is led by Courtney Moser, who is a previous Skills USA state winner in welding.

“Many of you are probably wondering why did a female get into welding,” said Moser, as she addressed the crowd attending the ribbon cutting last Wednesday.

She explained that as a senior at Maxwell High School of Technology, in Gwinnett County, she needed a senior math credit. So, instead of taking another math course she earned the credit by taking a welding class.

From there she competed, won state, and earned a scholarship to welding school. Then, she worked for Kubota for two years.

Her former welding teacher talked to her about the welding program at Thomson and launched her path to becoming a THS teacher.

“I am so proud of the kids already and what they’ve accomplished just getting started,” she said.  “My goal for this program is to increase the number of skilled welders in the area. Currently, as some of you may or may not know, there is a storage. This program can help meet the demands for a quality workforce.”

Some of the THS students will be competing in their first welding competition Nov. 14.

“We are very excited and very happy to have Ms. Moser here with us. She’s done an excellent job so far and she has created a lot of energy and a lot of buzz around the welding program,” said Trevor Roberson, THS principal.

Andy Knox, McDuffie County Board of Eduction chair, explained how the idea of a welding lab at THS began. He said the idea came from a conversation among Steve Rhodes, CTAE director at the school; Kerry Bridges, of Georgia Power; Sam Perren, of the University of Georgia’s Archway Program; and others.

“This is really the first tangible result that we have seen in our community as a result of the Archway effort,” said Knox.

“We are excited about the opportunity that this facility presents for the young people of our community,” he said.

Several entities helped bring the welding lab to fruition including the Georgia Power Foundation by way of a $100,000 donation. Jefferson Energy donated $10,000 and the State of Georgia provided a construction equipment grant for $67,000.

“All of those moneys helped us to get this moving,” said Knox.

Georgia Power’s local representative also helped the school communicate with the local welding union to see what is needed in the area workforce.

Parrish Construction  helped host the ribbon cutting and also  was involved in the renovation of the space the lab now occupies. They were handling the broader renovation at THS.

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