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Clinton High School is seeing the sparks fly with new welding apprenticeship program

This is the first year for the welding apprenticeship at Clinton High School. Now, they want to grow the program.

CLINTON, Iowa — The Clinton High School welding program is growing, introducing an apprenticeship program for the first time this year. One senior is taking full advantage of it.

Otto Weispfenning started his apprenticeship with JT Cullen about a month ago, working paid, part-time at the custom metal manufacturer. 

"Cause that first class it really hooked me and I really liked welding," Weispfenning says. "I wanted to keep on taking them and I'm trying to take every welding class that they offer."

Weispfenning took his first welding class as a freshman. All those lessons, building up to his first "real-world" gig.

"Otto's a great worker and well-deserving of having that position," welding instructor Ted Lamb says. "It's really satisfying to help one of my students. To go in and have those opportunities, I think it gives a little more direction for where they're headed and gives them a head start."

Weispfenning will become a qualified welder after his two-year apprenticeship is up. He might even get a chance to go full-time with JT Cullen. If not, Lamb says he'll be set-up for success wherever he ends up.

"To actually build something big like what I'm doing at work is really exciting," Weisfenning says. "It's what I really want to go into."

And the program is growing. Lamb says COVID caused the program to downsize, but he says Clinton High School is working with more companies to get them involved.

"With this opportunity, we're hoping to grow it so we don't just have one student involved in it," Lamb says. "We'll have multiple students every year."

For not, Weispfenning is perfecting his craft, ready to take on those big jobs.