ALTO, Texas — Most high school students graduating this May will go off to college, while others plan to enter the workforce.
Alto ISD is enrolled in the American Welding Society program, which helps train and certify students from 8th-12th grades become professional welders.
"How many high school kids know exactly what they want to do when they graduate?" Ag and engineering teacher Jason Davis said. "Not a lot, but this program is helping open the doors to different career paths."
Davis has been in education for 16 years and this is his first time teaching welding for Alto ISD.
One of those students he taught was Alto senior Julian Islas. He plans to take his certification and continue his education at Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center in Houston.
"There is never a day I come here and say, man, I don't want to do this anymore," Islas said. "I really enjoy it and have a lot of fun with it, and I can't wait to continue pursuing it."
Within Davis's first year overseeing the program, he and the administration have helped get 16 students get certified and career ready.
"It's great, the amount of effort that came from me being afraid that I wouldn't have what it takes to teach this department," Davis said. "My fear was my motivation, and I couldn't be more proud of these kids at Alto ISD."
Certified students like Chris Dean have been in Alto ISD's welders program since the 8th grade. He plans to pursue the oil field after graduation and owes much of his success to his school for giving him the tools and knowledge to get there.
"I definitely want to thank our ag teacher, Mr. Davis, and also our admin for giving us the opportunity to be able to learn this trade," Dean said.
Alto ISD students will graduate Friday, May 19, as many of his students prepare to enter into their career path of choice in welding. Davis hopes one day, those students will return to their Alma mater.
"Explore, go achieve your pathway and when you find happiness and success, come back to Alto ISD and spread the knowledge," Davis said.