The start of class in the welding shop at Harlingen High School South is marked by the sound of loud machinery and sparks of light.
The students in Mr. Alvarez’s welding class are currently working on a special project. They are piecing together a metal frame that resembles a real vehicle, a prop car for Fire Academy students to practice extinguishing live vehicle fires.
“Through this project, my students are learning fitting, cutting, measuring, squaring, and anything across the board having to do with welding,” Harlingen High School South welding instructor Richard Alvarez said.
In addition to learning welding skills, students participating in building this car are also learning how to work as a team.
“It’s good teamwork; it builds relationships with the people in the class,” Harlingen High School South junior Santian Torres said. “This course, in particular, I wanted to take it because I think all the skills we learn here will be useful. It has everything to do with tools and welding. Anyone who is interested in any trade should really look into welding because it can give them a head start.”
Through the Apprenticeship Academy at HCISD, students have an opportunity to earn certifications in carpentry, electrical, HVAC, masonry, plumbing, or welding.
“I like welding because it’s physical work,” Harlingen High School South senior Julian Trevino said. “When I graduate high school, I would like to continue to do this. I am trying to go to Houston to go to a college of welding over there.”
The collaboration between the Welding Academy and the Fire Academy on this project allows both groups of students to practice essential skills they need for their certifications.
“Mr. Alvarez was actually able to bring that design into his class and build us this prop car,” HCISD Fire Academy Coordinator and Harlingen Fire Department Captain Kristopher Armstrong said. “Our Fire Academy students will be learning actual live fire scenarios in vehicles, and we will be working in collaboration with the Harlingen Fire Department.”
The HCISD Academies offer students 37 certification opportunities to choose from.
“By the school creating the prop, it just speaks volumes of how the school district is wanting to incorporate these academies into the school system,” Harlingen Assistant Fire Chief Eduardo Alvarez said. “We are honored, and we are happy that everybody is pulling together and getting this project off the ground.”