09/04/12 Several area high school students are on the road to becoming certified welders as part of the North Central Area Vocational Cooperative. The class, meeting at the Knox Middle School, currently has twelve students who attend half-days Monday through Thursday. The program is located in an area of the school where welding students have a dedicated entrance and exit.

Students who are either juniors or seniors may apply online and schedule through the guidance counselors in their school. The State of Indiana funds approximately $1,500 of the $2,500 per student required to train each student. Once students complete the course satisfactorily, the will receive credit through Vincennes University and their welding certification.

According to the Area Vocational Coordinator, Jerry Hollenbaugh, beginning next semester, students will have an opportunity to work at industrial sites as interns.

Hollenbuagh said he was contacted by at least four businesses that indicated they were in dire need of certified welders. After forming a task force and joining with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and SCILL Center, the program was put in place in time for the beginning of the 2012-0213 school year. The equipment needed to train the students was purchased through a Perkins Grant. Perkins Grants are used to develop academic, vocational and technical skills of secondary and post secondary students.

Hollenbaugh said they will be offering a class for adults that will start on September 10.

Hollenbaugh began teaching in 1973 and started with the North Central Area Vocational Cooperative in 1977. Some of the 14 programs offered through the North Central Area Cooperative include Microsoft Technology Associate & Microsoft Certified IT Professional, Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice, Health Occupations, Building Trades, and Automotive Technology. Schools participating in the co-op include: Argos, Culver, John Glenn, Knox, North Judson-San Pierre, Oregon-Davis, Plymouth, Rochester, Triton, and Union-North.

Carol Anders Correspondent