Skip To Main Content

Welding Course Completion Marks Milestone in Career Technical Education Expansion

Welding Course Completion Marks Milestone in Career Technical Education Expansion

On Tuesday, students and families gathered at the Colorado Welding Institute (CWI) in Hayden to celebrate students who completed the welding course, which earned them both high school credit and industry certifications. This is the first time the welding course has been offered on a larger scale to students and made possible entirely by community donors, reflecting the commitment to expanding opportunities for career technical education. 

Caden Johnson, a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School (SSHS), likes hands-on work instead of being on computers all day. His family works in construction, and he might use welding as a side gig. 

“I like this class because it opens up opportunities into the trades instead of pushing toward college,” said Caden. “I would be interested in taking it again.” 

The class was a collaboration between Yampa Valley High School (YVHS), SSHS, and the CWI in Hayden. Contributions from the Yampa Valley Partnership for Students, Stewardship and Sustainability, and the donors through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation made the program entirely possible. The donations covered the program fee of $2,500 per student. Part of the funding also included transportation to get students safely to and from Hayden, even during inclement weather. SSHS and YVHS hope to be able to offer this program to students in the future. 

The course is a 40-hour program with four hours per week for ten weeks. The program started at the beginning of the spring semester. There are 12 total students in the program from YVHS and SSHS. The cohort from YVHS is a 50/50 split of boys and girls, four of whom are bilingual. 

Kelly Gervacio, a 10th grader at YVHS, took the class to explore options for what she will do with her life after high school. 

"It’s pretty hard,” said Kelly. “I had a fear of doing stuff with machines, but I have learned how to overcome that fear. I have gained confidence and now know how to repair things. Even though it’s a guy thing, girls can do it as well.” 

Ketsaly Gamero Apodaca, a 10th grader at YVHS, wanted to take the class because it was a unique opportunity, and she thought she was up for the challenge. Welding isn’t just for industrial uses, it can be used for creative outlets as well. 

“It is scary because you have to learn new information and remember all the skills, but I want to use the skills I have learned for all aspects,” Ketsaly said. “I have gained confidence from this class.” 

Kevin Klecker is the owner and instructor at CWI. He has 31 years of teaching experience and opened the facility about two years ago. 

Welding has given Klecker a good life. He said his wife was able to stay home and raise their three kids because welding provided financial stability for his family. Klecker wants to share his passion with others and simply loves teaching. 

“It’s a great choice because it is in huge demand and gives students self-confidence to pursue other things,” Klecker said. “It also teaches students to think critically and use math skills. This is a creative outlet where they can use their hands. Nothing is better than making something with your hands. It builds a lot of confidence.”