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Special School District of St. Louis County

Tech Grads Bring Home Awards, Skills

Two 2011 graduates have displayed the skills they learned at South County Technical High School and turned them into award-winning creations. Robert Patzius and Brandon Allen both graduated from the welding program at South Tech this spring, and each earned impressive recognition for their works of art.

Patzius earned a bronze medal in the welding sculpture contest at the SkillsUSA National Championships held in Kansas City in June. His “Autumn Inspiration” sculpture had earned a gold medal at the Missouri SkillsUSA competition before being entered into the national contest.

The project, which took six months to complete, was judged on both the sculpture itself as well as the step-by-step process that Patzius presented to the judges to detail how he made his sculpture and what he learned from the experience.

Allen, who placed second in the Missouri SkillsUSA competition, took first place at the Cee Kay Supply welding contest for his St. Louis Cardinals-themed sculpture. His “Cardinal Fever” featured a stainless steel replica of baseball's World Series trophy along with a cardinal perched on top of a bat and ball.

For winning the contest, Brandon received a Miller ArcStation 60SX weld table.

Both students were members of Adam Holt's welding class at South Tech, and both currently are enrolled at Missouri Welding Institute.

“The training that the welding students receive at South Tech simulates hands-on real world experience just like that of job sites,” Holt said. “Upon graduation, most of our welding students will continue to further their education at either Tulsa Welding School or Missouri Welding Institute to obtain their master pipe welding and fitting degree. Others pursue a career immediately after graduation.”

One of the unique aspects of the Career and Technical Education program at SSD is the ability for students to gain the hands-on experience they need to move toward the career they plan to enter.

“But when students go out to find a job, they need more than just the hands-on vocational skills,” said Rosina Palmer, an instructional facilitator at South Tech. “They need a combination of skills. No matter what field the students are training for, communication skills, like speaking and writing, are just as important when it comes to finding jobs.”

With more than 30 programs in a wide range of fields, the Career and Technical Education program offers a variety of options. The program partners with more than 370 employers and schools to help students gain experience and expertise they could not receive elsewhere. And several programs offer dual-enrollment opportunities, where students can work toward professional licenses, apprenticeships, certifications and college degrees while also earning their high school degree.

But collaboration isn't just with outside partners.

“Our staff really work well together,” Palmer said. “A student may learn one thing in the shop from one instructor, and then the next day they work with a guidance counselor or librarian to practice a mock interview. Everyone has their area of expertise, and the staff works so well to help the students apply things to real world situations.”

Robert Patzius
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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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