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MFHS welding students begin community bond with project

Marble Falls High School Ag Power class

Classwork is sometimes a grind. Marble Falls High School student Jacob Saldienro is learning valuable skills in his Ag Power class while contributing to the community. Saldienro and his classmates are building a barbecue pit for His Joshua House, a Kingsland nonprofit that helps men get their lives back on track from alcohol and drug addictions. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Marble Falls High School student Ayden Humphrys crawled out of the under-construction barbecue pit, shook the MIG welder, and looked at the tip.

He wasn’t getting a good weld, and, inside the repurposed water tank, Humphrys couldn’t determine the issue. Was the powder coating on the metal tank causing it? He had used a grinder to create an open spot on the metal surface.

Or, was something wrong with the tip?

“This is what I like about this class,” said agriculture engineering teacher Kyle Holton. “(Students) have to problem solve.”

After a discussion with Ag Power classmate Ethan Blair, the students determined the tip was to blame. They exchanged one MIG (metal and inert gas) welder for another and went back to work. Holton pulled the previous welder’s tip and confirmed the students’ suspicion.

“There’s so many things they learn in this class, problem solving, team work,” Holton added. “It’s an applied science class, so things they learn in their core classes like math, they use in here.”

Holton’s third-year Ag Power students are also putting their skills to use for a local nonprofit, His Joshua House. The barbecue pit is destined for the Kingsland facility, which helps men who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions get back on their feet. During the project, students are using the skills they’ve learned in welding and putting them into a “real-world” situation.

The students helped design the barbecue pit as well. Everyone plays a role in the project.

Marble Falls High School Ag Power class
Teacher Kyle Holton (second from right) with Ag Power class students Ayden Humphrys (left), Gage Biggs, and Ethan Blair. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Holton pointed out projects like this give students a taste of what they’ll experience in a career. The barbecue pit requires they work as a team. Along the way, the students have to accomplish tasks — sometimes on their own, sometimes with each other.

“These are things that will benefit them in any career,” Holton pointed out.

While Humphrys and Blair worked on welding braces inside the pit, which will eventually hold cooking racks, classmate Gage Biggs ground the edges of the braces so they fit properly. On another side of the pit, Jacob Saldienro and Daniel Aguilar ground down a couple of patches the students had welded into the old water tank. The patches filled in gaps from the structure’s previous job.

Ag Power is one of the many Career and Technical Education classes available at Marble Falls High School. According to district officials, approximately 93 percent of students take at least one CTE class.

In the welding classes, Holton and other instructors begin with first-year students and build up their knowledge, skills, and confidence as they go along.

Students can eventually take tests to earn certification through the American Welding Society.

Some welding students are looking to learn a career, others just a useful skill or hobby.

No matter how Ag Power students choose to use the things they learn in class, they already will be making a difference in the community with the barbecue pit, something they hope to deliver later this year to His Joshua House.

“They’re not just students; they’re finding out that they are a part of the community when they do something like this,” Holton said.