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Students Show Off Welding Skills At Annual Showdown
Mellor, Lattig Place
Shown, a competitor in the annual welding showdown using an oxygen/acetylene cutting torch to notch out a strip of quarter-inch plate. Photo Contributed

Career Technical Education (CTE) students from seven area high schools competed in the Third Annual Welding Showdown on Jan. 20 at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The 35 competing students showcased their welding skills to industry representatives who helped judge the competition.

Venture Academy Family of Schools (VAFS), a charter school operated by the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), received top honors in the team competition, and students from Orestimba High School and Escalon High School took top marks in the individual competitions.

“The Welding Showdown continues to showcase the best talent in our high schools from around San Joaquin County. The continued growth and interest in this annual event demonstrates the need to provide quality career-related pathways for students in our middle and high schools,” SJCOE CTE Director Chris Kleinert said.

The seven high schools that competed this year were from San Joaquin and other counties: Patterson High School, Lincoln High School, Escalon High School, Linden High School, Ripon High, Orestimba High, and Venture Academy Family of Schools. Each school fielded a five-person team with team members competing in individual challenges.

Top five performers in individual competition were: Brytton Mellor, Escalon High School, first place; Nick Lattig, Escalon High School, second; Jack Whitearer, Orestimba High School, third; Michael Russell, Venture Academy, fourth and, fifth place tie, Evan Gunita, Venture Academy and Jackson Meler, Ripon High School.

Top Team was Venture Academy featuring students Patrick Robinson, Dallas Blasengym, Felix Rodriguez, Michael Russell, Evan Guinta.

Students from the winning team took home new welding gear, gloves, jackets, hoods, and glasses. All students received a pair of new gloves, literature, calendars, and stickers donated by Miller Electric and Lincoln Electric, industry leaders in welding equipment. California Welding Supply also awarded a new handheld grinder to the winning team.

There are many different welding processes: shielded metal arc welding/stick welding (SMAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), and gas tungsten arc welding (TIG). Students competed using SMAW and GMAW. The competition also included a written exam that assessed students on their technical welding knowledge.

The idea for the competition began three years ago when SJCOE CTE Welding Instructor John Herger and Patterson High’s Instructor Michael Costa met and discussed ways to motivate students and to give them something to work toward that was rewarding and challenging. Last year, Delta College Welding Instructor Alex Taddei joined the collaboration, allowing more schools in the region to participate.

“I look forward to this contest every year because of the students. The effort they put into the contest, along with the support of the industry and the passion shared by the instructors makes for an extremely exciting day. The competition is always very close and it’s anyone’s game,” Herger said.

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the secondary grades integrate core academic instruction with technical and occupational instruction in order to increase student achievement, graduation rates, and readiness for postsecondary education and employment. SJCOE’s CTE program focuses on preparing students to enter current or emerging high-skill, high-wage, and/or high-demand occupations. CTE opportunities may be offered through linked learning programs, partnership academies, apprenticeship programs or orientation to apprenticeships, regional occupational centers and programs, tech prep programs, charter schools, small learning communities, or other programs that expose students to career options while preparing them for future careers in a given industry or interest area.

San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) provides educational leadership, resources, and services to support schools throughout the county. For more information, visit