orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

October 14, 2012

Bridge City HS helping students with new skills

BRIDGE CITY — There sat a building off to the side of Bridge City High School gym for many years and many people were not sure what it was if they were not a select few.

That has changed this year. It is the Cards Shop. A new classroom set to get students ready to enter the trade workforce. This is the first year for the classes to be taught at Bridge City. Lane Mallett teaches both welding and manufacturing.

A total of 41 students are taking welding and 78 students are in Mallett’s welding class this year, a high number considering last year the courses were not on the schedule.

“We started this with two C clamps,” Mallett said. “All we are doing is getting these kids the groundwork to be successful in these trades. I am excited about this. The main thing is these kids now have the chance to make a living in a trade by making a career of this work. If you work hard people will respect your work.”

So Mallett’s students have taken on the motto, “Champions at Work.”

Many of Mallett’s champions started the year by having very little knowledge of common hand or power tools. He said several couldn’t tell the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver.

Those students now are in a classroom with welding machines, drills, saws and other power tools. And they have been busy from the start.

Students in both classes combined have completed about 18 projects and worked on projects in about 130 hours.

“The students will now know how to use common tools if nothing else,” Mallett said. “That can be so helpful around the house in daily life. We live in the prime area for the petrochemical industry. This is a golden opportunity for many of these students to already have a foot in the door for a future job. These students start the work and finish. They draw the plans and then they finish it all the way up to painting and a finish coat. You have to finish a project and not just start it. I only give the students boundaries and let them have the freedom to create the work.”

The vocational program at Bridge City High School has been in the works for about four years. Principal Richard Briggs said Superintendent Mike King’s background in the field gave the program the final push.

“What we try to do is have every kid find their fit or program they can get into while at school,” Briggs said. “This program, thanks to the kids and Mr. Mallett, is far ahead of schedule. Where they are today is where we thought we would be in March or April. The whole idea is when our students walk across the graduation stage they have a strong foundation.”

Briggs and Mallett both had strong applause for the community and sponsors who have made the program what it already is today. One of the biggest contributors has been ABC in the Nederland area.

The list of sponsors and those who have given tools and other equipment to the program in Bridge City is along list and Briggs said he couldn’t say enough appaluses to each of them.

“The community backing we have had so far is super,” Briggs said. “ABC has been instrumental and everyone from the businesses and people inside our community are to be thanked.”

One huge part of the success of the program this early on is Mallett himself.

“For any program we have to be successful you have to have the right person and leader,” Briggs said. “Lane has such an energy and passion for this and it has rubbed off on his students. He has been the perfect fit because he has been out in the field and worked these trades and he has a long history in teaching. He can see and teach all aspects of this. Those guys in this program are like a bunch of ants each day working on things and going from one thing to the other. It has been great to see.”

Mallett’s focus for the rest of the school year is to continue to make sure all his students leave this year with knowledge to start a career or simply fix things around the house.

“This has been a huge responsibility for myself and it is a huge honor,” Mallett said. “We also teach these students how to be safe. Safety is our number one rule around the shop. The kids are excited, I’m excited and it has been easy to tell our community is excited. The community and other sponsors have been amazing. We can’t wait to get to work.”

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