POLLOK, Texas (KETK) – A new welding instructor at Central High School in Pollok has taken their welding program to new heights by introducing the students to team build-offs and individual contest competitions. 

Heather Hill started in the fall and began entering her class into welding competitions.

“When she brought everybody in and told us about these things, we did not have a clue about them. We went to the first one, and we liked it ever since,” said Karsen Beauchamb, a welding student.

Emmanuel Sarmiento has been in the welding program all four years of high school. He is excited to be competing in his senior year.

“These build-offs sounded great for us, and it is doing great for us,” he said. “A-grilling-and-a-chillin was the theme. We made a little grill with the open area at the bottom and then a little stool to sit down.”

Hill is thrilled to see these competitions enhance students’ learning experience and “teach students some skills that will allow them to have a job directly out of high school, something that is a well-paying job and something that they can go and have a good career in.”

Senior students have also enjoyed problem-solving the projects they have built so far. From barbecues, trailers, to fire-pits, these welders can build anything they put their mind to.

“We have come a long way from our first contest. In the first few contests, we went to in the fall, I took four students, then I had nine students and then I had 15 students. I’ve learned I can’t take a pick-up anymore. I’m going to have to take a bigger vehicle,” said Hill.

Since starting competitions in the fall of 2022, students have earned $22,000 in scholarships. The superintendent of the Central Independent School District is proud of how much the program has grown.

“I really never dreamed this is where we would be. She had the vision. She has the interest of the students. You know, it started out with just a few and now we are taking buses (of) students,” said Justin Risner, the Superintendent of Central ISD.