Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Hamm Foundation grants over $1,000 to McLouth High School to purchase new welding curtain and forging materials.
Hamm Foundation Director Lexi Peterson with Nichole Hinrichsen and her Spring of 2022 welding students.
In 2012, USD #342 converted their wood shop to a metals shop and changed their tech lab room into an ag room. Nichole Hinrichsen was hired to teach welding, agriculture mechanics, and animal science courses at McLouth High School.
For the past nine years Nichole has focused her shop budget on purchasing new welders as well as increasing the number of tools in the shop to meet the demand of student enrollment.
Since 2016, only 50%-71% of students who requested welding were placed in the class due to demand. This year there was an unprecedented amount of shop requests (over 70) but only 18 spots available for welding and 10 spots for agriculture mechanics.
The school's shop was utilizing old bathroom stall panels to divide four welding stations to protect students from flash burn and sparks. This was not an environment that models industry standards. Nichole was able to purchase station dividers with an industry grade welding curtain, while keeping them on frames with wheels to open up stations for large group demonstrations.
Her students tour the McLouth Threshing Bee every year and their favorite station is always the blacksmithing station. Each year she is asked if they could get one for the shop. While this isn’t something that would be an industry upgrade, it is something that could be used to draw kids to her shop classes.
Additionally, once her freshman finish their skill welds in their nine-week welding unit, they are allowed to make a project out of horseshoes. Typically their projects require bending the horseshoes. Because freshman are not allowed to use the oxyacetylene torches for safety reasons, Nichole's welding students spend a lot of time filling “orders” from freshman-heating and bending shoes. The forge allows her freshman to complete their projects independently.
Nichole requested and was awarded a grant from the Hamm Foundation for framed welding curtains to allow her to have more flexibility in the shop and forging materials to possibly increase the number of students who enroll in her class.