Fabrication students at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus have been increasingly showcasing their outstanding skills these days, and will also be donating one of their creations to a very good cause
A model that resembles a vintage Volkswagon bus will be donated to the Heartland Youth Centre for their auction later this year, said instructor Gordon LaRose. “It’s an outdoor fire pit basically – a little wood-burning stove for just sitting out on the deck,” he explained. “It’s made out of a 30-lb propane tank cut in half length-wise, and then we added 15 inches into the middle. So it’s nearly two feet high and about 30 inches long.”
This specific item was created by Harry Staples, Tucker McNeill, Bryson Haustein and Jacob Buchwitz.
“It’s kind of a collaboration.”
Typically, LaRose introduces an idea in class and the students take it from there. Another terrific example of their talents can be seen it a steel structure that resembles a tree.
“The tree is a really good example because I just grabbed two pieces of pipe and handed it to them, and said that I wanted a steel tree,” he said. “First they looked at me kind of funny, but then they went to work! And that’s what we ended up with,” said LaRose.
A metal sphere built out of sheet metal is also something that commands attention.
Ultimately, it’s going to be a football helmet that will be put up at the back of the shop. “I hope to have it hooked up to a propane bottle so we can light it up before games, too. It will be about a 30-inch high football helmet – that’s what we are hoping for,” he explained.
LaRose said there is potential for any student to really grow skill-wise through the course of the year.
“Some of the guys have those natural skills, and it’s easier for them. I also have a young guy in here – last semester was his first semester of welding. He had never taken it before,” he added. The young man was tentative at first, but over the course of the months and with LaRose’s guidance, he has shown amazing growth.
“His confidence grew,” said LaRose of the remarkable advancement in skill.
“That’s the biggest thing in welding – if you don’t have confidence, or if you think you aren’t going to do well – you won’t,” he said.
Meanwhile, the projects just keep coming.
“Right now, they are fixing a loader on a tractor for a customer and I have a large outdoor fire place with fire wood storage on either side. I’m also hoping to get more outside projects in as well.”
Other projects that have been built over the past months run the gamut from tables to bench presses for working out to a tree stand for hunting. Versatility is truly the defining word with this class.
Connecting with students is also what makes teaching so fulfilling, he said.
“It’s a small town, so I grew up with some of their parents,” he added. “I also enjoy the students, seeing all the stuff they have built and seeing them grow in it.
“They put a lot of work into it,” he added.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Heartland Youth Centre are thrilled with the donation for the annual auction, said Sara Wengryn, program director of the Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s amazing in so many ways, because one, our community continues to support us which reiterates why we are doing what we are doing. But the most important thing that I am really excited about is that it is youth giving back to youth,” she said.
“I love that part of it,” she said. “I also love that the teachers and the school are very aware of what we do, and that they are instilling those concepts – like giving back – into our youth.”
Details about this year’s auction haven’t been nailed down as of yet, but staff are generally assuming that once again they unfortunately won’t be able to have a large gathering.
“Our loose plan right now is to hold another online auction like we did last year in October,” she said.
Last fall, the community really stepped up to generously support the Heartland Youth Centre via an online auction as well. Wengryn added that more items for the auction are certainly welcome, even though it’s a few months down the road.
Meanwhile, things continue to more forward via programming at the Centre.
“I think that because we can be outside more now, it definitely makes life easier,” she said. “The COVID-19 restrictions are a little bit less noticeable when we can be outside. That really helps our kids.”