Westside's popular welding program looks to move to a bigger space

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - In the late 1990's Westside High School renovated their facilities.

Now, The space for one growing class is too small, and those enrolled are reaching out for the community's help.

For senior Josh Tills, his first welding class was just a way to fill out his schedule.

"I took it for the semester and found that I really enjoyed it,” he said.

But for Tills, and many, it ignited a passion that is way more than just burning stuff with metal. 

“Welding is such a versatile skill in that study that it can be used in many different settings,” said Bradlee Loontjer, Westside High Junior.

At Westside High School, the welding program is part of career and Tech Ed. sequence. 

Students in the class benefit from the relationship with Metro Community College.

They are dual enrolled in both institutions, getting credits for both high school and college. It's one of the largest programs in the state.

200 kids a semester go through the program. 

“We thought it was a bubble but it has continued to climb. The enrollment is just maxed. The facility can only handle a number of students safely at one time and it is always at capacity every period of the day,” said Gregg Ratliff, chair of the Engineering and Technology Education.

That bubble hasn't popped and now they're struggling with space. 

350 to 400 students per year fit into a 1200 square feet space. 

The facility is half of what it was in 1998.

Renovations meant the smaller room.

But Ratliff said the enrollment is probably 4 times what it was back then.

When it comes to lectures,

“We just bring all the stools out and the kids sit on the stools and write on their laps,” he said.

The welding class would like to more than double their space.

Students made this video to get attention for their needs and have been sharing it on social media.

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