SSHS welding class, instructor win national awards
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov. 16, 2005 - Sulphur Springs High School’s agriculture department’s welding students  recently made out like bandits in a national welding contest sponsored by  James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio.

If that wasn’t enough, the welding instructor himself also won at the national FFA Convention held last month in Louisville, Ky. At the same venue, Alina Tatum was one of 18 of the top youths in the country afforded the opportunity to perform on the main stage, and Blake Fisher was awarded his American Farmer certificate.

According to instructor Dan Froneberger, several of his students who submitted entries in the 2005 Student Arc Welding Award Program in June were selected as winners in July, and within the last month received letters from the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation notifying them of their awards.

Top Student Arc Welding Award Program winners included Jared Ramey, $1,000 for Best Division I Welding; Kristopher Pace and Harlan Hammond, $250 each  for Regional Gold Award Division I; Dillon Millsap, $250 Regional Silver Award; and Mitch Self and Jared Ramey, $100 each for Regional Bronze Award.

Students awarded a best in division or gold award in the national contest also earned MIG welders for their school and instructor from the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio.

Brandon Sandlin, Joshua Ratliff, Eric Gunderson, Candice Mize, Alina Tatum, Candace VanWinkle, Ryan Cooey, Kolby Clayton and Shelby Hodges were each awarded either $16.67 or $16.66 Merit Awards for their Division I Student Arc Welding Award Program entries, while $25 Merit Awards went to Cameron Mitchell, Erick Hernandez, Colton Stageberg, Blake Irving, Joey Sims, Nathan Spataro, Kasey Wrisner, Brianna Vazquez, Michael Brown, Dakota Johnson, Derrick Nichols, Timmy Ballard, Kory Koon, Jesse Aaron, Josh Yager, Jake Merrill, Mat Ragan, Robert Russell, Kristopher Alexander and  Kencade Odom. 

Merit Awards in the amount of $50 for Division I Student Arc Welding went to Juan Ortiz, Sam Dolan, Jacob Nelson, Dallas Robertson, Stacey Flora, Wesley Salters, Kade Pace and Colton Wilks.

The students at the school will also benefit from the $4,200 Power Mig 350 awarded by Lincoln Electric Co. to SSHS instructor Dan Froneberger for his two welding entries in the  2 1/2 day Career Show for ag teachers held during the the National FFA Convention.

�We were proud to be able to represent the district that sent us to nationals, and that we brought back those [welders] for the school,� Froneberger said.

Blake Fisher, a 2004 SSHS graduate, and senior Alina Tatum also attended the National FFA Convention the week of Oct. 22-31.

Fisher was one of only one-half of 1 percent of youth recognized for “dairy proficiency” by becoming an “American Farmer,” an award certification for which young farmers can become eligible one year following their high school graduation. As a freshman at SSHS, Fisher received the Star Greenhand award, and in 2004 received the Area Star Lone Star Production award for three years of long hours and hard work with dairy cattle. 

Senior Alina Tatum was one of approximately 75 high school students who earned the honor of attending the national meet by being among the top finishers at the state FFA contest — in fact, she won the state FFA talent contest. Those selected as state winners performed between events by during the national convention. Tatum however, also earned the distinction of being one of 18 state talent winners selected to perform on the main stage during the national FFA meet.

�When Alina performed, there were over 50,000 who stood up for her � everyone was on their feet,� according to Alina�s grandmother, Linda Tatum. �The man in charge of the event invited her back for next year, and she is the only one after the talent show to be intervied by RFD TV.�

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