Twelve high school students, along with their parents, celebrated receiving their welding technical diplomas from WITC on May 22, at the New Richmond High School. New Richmond, Osceola and Somerset high school students received special cords to wear at their high school graduation ceremonies to signify their graduation from WITC and receiving transcripted college credits.

Area students who graduated from the welding academy include: Dylan Cordie, Reed Sorensen-Schad, Robert Kelley, Eve Schmit, Catherine Magler, Isaac Swanson, Chayden Melby, Chandler Canopy, Bryan Utecht, Dylan Wachter and Zach Brandt of New Richmond; Riley Gehrman and Joe Lehman of Osceola; and Justin Rivard of Somerset.

Instructor Tom Leque talked about their successes and progress. The class had the opportunity to tour Oxbo International Corporation in Clear Lake, and Donaldson Company in Baldwin. Both are local companies that employ dual enrollment welding graduates.

Another great opportunity was attending the Northwest Welding Competition in May at WITC-Rice Lake. Nineteen schools from northwest Wisconsin, totaling over 120 competitors, tested on theory and different welding processes. New Richmond welding students placed in the top three in every category but one.

Magler placed first in the written exam. Canopy placed second in gas metal arc welding. Kelley placed third in shielded metal arc welding. Utecht placed second in oxy-fuel welding.

Blueprint reading was added to the curriculum this year. This skill allowed students to convey ideas on paper and understand how to create, design and build. It rounded out the process by taking a project from paper to build.

The welding dual academy "laid the framework for success," said Leque.

All students attended classes at New Richmond High School and WITC-New Richmond. Half of the graduates plan to pursue a welding career.