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Shop students deserve honors

Five Denton High School shop students deserve a pat on the back for going above and beyond when their teachers challenged them to build a one-man welding table for the school’s fabrication lab.

Wesley Barnett, Dakota Gardiner, Carlos Ramirez, Caleb Shafer and Alexis Ventura not only completed the assignment but did so in winning fashion — their creation went on to be named grand champion in the shop division at the Denton County Livestock Association Youth Fair and Rodeo and earned a blue ribbon at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Teachers and advisers Laurence McClendon and David Laney said the students did a lot of research and looked at a lot of tables before settling on their design.

Once they picked a design and decided what they needed to make it happen, the students worked through spring break to make sure they would be ready for the shows, McClendon said.

“They worked us [the teachers] to death,” McClendon said.

All the research and hard work really paid off. A state occupational safety director told the team it appeared they had thought of everything, Laney told us. The electrical outlets on the table are hospital-grade and a safety on the cutter makes it possible for more than one person to be working on the table at the same time. Of course, a fire extinguisher is tucked into its holder, too.

McClendon, who teaches welding, said most welders work by themselves, so the students kept that in mind when they figured out the table’s design and features. Although the table weighs about 1,200 pounds, the students put a truck jack in the center to make it easy for one person to hand-crank the jack and lift the table to roll it around. Other tools, such as a cutter, vise and grinder, can be either attached to the table or easily removed.

In Houston, all the projects in the agricultural mechanics show were evaluated using the Dutch mechanical grading system, which is known for its strenuous, high standards, Laney said, and the table was the talk of the show.

The chief executive officer of a farm supply store said the table was the most innovative he’d ever seen. He wanted to buy it, while a custom fabricator told them they should patent the design, Laney said.

Whether they patent the work, or make the schematics available, will take a little more research, Laney said. In the meantime, the students are already looking ahead to next year’s shows.

The students’ approach to the project is a tribute to their level of maturity. It sounds like these guys would be handy to have around, and we know their parents and instructors are proud of them.

They’ve certainly earned our respect and admiration, and it’s doubtful we’re alone. A lot of people are impressed by what they have accomplished.

It will be exciting to see what they come up with for next year’s shows, but one thing is for sure — we don’t envy the competition.