January 18, 2017

     I believe that it was absolutely necessary—a wall needed to be built. Who would pay for the wall? Who would be tasked with the construction of the wall? When would we build the wall? The construction of the wall is essential to ensure the safety of our students by creating the recommended level of isolation that has proven to be successful in creating the optimum learning environment. The topic will surely be debated but I will make the case of the indubitability that the wall had to be built.

     The purchase approval of the major components at the June school board meeting meant that the indecision of what program would share the facility with the LHS automotive program no longer existed. On the 13th of June 2016, it was decided that areas of the former Nebraska Army National Guard armory building would be remodeled to become the new home of the Lexington High School welding technology program.

     The use of the word “wall” as a singular object was intentionally misleading, meant to grab your attention, but I stand steadfast and unapologetic for employing a learned tactic, one that is too often used by today’s media culture. It would be much more accurate to describe it as a system of walls, large and small, that would form a series of booths that are identical in size and shape. Twenty 6’x6’ walls and twelve 3’x7’ walls were constructed using 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” x 3/16” square tube gussets of various design made from 1/4” steel plate and 14-gauge sheet steel. LHS students enrolled in welding II and welding III classes were tasked with the fabrication of the walls that would compose the individual booths for the new facility.

     Welding booths isolate the individual when performing one of the arc welding processes and help reduce the amount of ultraviolet and infrared rays that others are exposed to, thereby increasing the safety factor for our welding students. The booths reach a height of 7’ above the floor with a 1’ void at the base to improve the overall airflow. The freestanding partition walls will also shield welders from their classmates’ sparks, spatter and slag. The booth dimensions of 6’x6’ were taken from the recommendations provided by the American Welding Society (AWS).

     The fabrication of the booth walls was a great opportunity too for LHS welding students to contribute to the construction of the new facility. The 2nd- and 3rd-year welding students built walls during their welding classes, after school and on the weekends. Volunteerism made this project happen, and the students who put in double-digit hours on a weekend really got a great idea of what welding fabrication would be like as a full-time occupation. There’s a group of students who will be able to come back 10 – 20 years from now and know that they were partly responsible for something that hundreds of students will have benefited from during their time in a LHS welding class. In my twelve years as an educator, I’ve never before had the fortune of working with so many students who were willing to volunteer such a significant amount of their time to help make their educational experience better.

     In conclusion, some Lexington High School students did an outstanding job of building some walls that will be put to good use in the new welding shop and sharpened their welding skills in the process.