By Jasmine Franklin
Fire sparks and loud noise will now be heard from St. Augustine School, but it’s nothing to be alarmed, but rather it’s something to be celebrated.
With students, government officials, school board members and teachers watching, the ribbon was untied Oct. 23 and officially declare St. Augustine’s new welding and apprentice shop open.
“I’m very happy this day has come,” said Kevin Prediger, principal of the school. “This is a place to play with metal and teach students and interns.”
The shop is a partnership with Red Deer College that will allow both high school students to learn and college students to apprentice in the welding sanctuary.
“Students from RDC will begin apprenticing here in Ponoka as early as January,” said Neil Christiansen, part of Regional Trades Initiative for RDC. “This is one of the nicest welding shops in Alberta.”
The project began in 2006 when Alberta Education called to propose an initiative program for the school in career trades studies (CTS). The school applied for the program and received $109,000 of a $316,000 provincial grant. The rest of the money was given to the St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School Division.
From there, the school received a CTS Evergreen grant that helped to supply the machinery for the shop and the board then gave additional funding to put up the structure.
Together, the province and RDC created a Rural Trades Initiative that helps to set up new trade shops across the province.
RDC will come in directly to St. Augustine to offer apprentice programs for their students.
MLA Ray Prins was thrilled about the shop.
“This is only one step in an entire process of building more trade schools and shops for our province,” Prins said. “Whether you choose an academic root or straight to trades — do what you like, and do it well.”
St. Augustine is the second school in the province to open a trades shop under the regional trades initiative.