Sparks may soon start flying at the Knox Middle School, as the Knox Community School Corporation has been working with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation, the SCILL Center, and North Central Vocational Area School representatives to set up a vocational welding class in the middle school.
Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charles Weaver says that the class would benefit not just students, but adults as well.
“What we came up with is a two-prone approach to the problem,” said Weaver. “The first is to provide welding for adults that would include unemployed adults, and that would be offered through Work One. The second would be through the North Central Vocational Cooperative area program. That would be offered to students in the 10 high schools that are in the co-op and would be based in Starke County.”
Knox Community School Superintendent A.J. Gappa says they are already well underway in preparing for the new class, which would be based in the old wood shop in the middle school.
“Jerry Hollenbaugh from the North Central Area Vocational Corporation has purchased welding equipment in excess of $80,000 to outfit that classroom,” explained Gappa. “Other representatives are working to try to secure, through the SCILL Center, a fume collection that would be necessary to vent the room.”
Gappa says the Northern Indiana Community Foundation donated money to help the SCILL center in this project.
“The Northern Indiana Community Foundation is going to help the SCILL Center foot the bill for some capital project improvements to outfit the welding class so it can be used. We want to get that going just as soon as possible,” said Gappa.
The student program would allow participants to receive credit from either Ivy Tech or Vincennes University.
Andy Odle of North Judson would be the instructor. He also certifies for Arcelor-Mittel of Burns Harbor. The students would come out of the class with an American Society of Welders certificate, and would be interviewed by representatives of six industrial sites in Starke County in need of welders.
Weaver requested and received funding from the commissioners for $30,000 to help with start-up costs for the program. Also contributing is the Starke County Community Foundation that has committed $10,000. If the class is established in time, the students would come in at the beginning of the 2012 – 2013 school year.