Sparta — Grace Kober, a junior at Sparta High School, found her second family in the Kent Career Tech Center welding technology program. There, she recently received the PRO award, which recognizes outstanding students in the program.
“Before I got into welding I was in quite a low spot of my life, and when I started welding, my mental health just skyrocketed,” she said. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Welding has really helped my relationship with my boyfriend and me, and my relationship with my family, and overall, it improved my grades at school.”
Challenged with ADHD and dyslexia, Grace said she found it difficult to sit in a classroom for six hours. “I can’t pay attention for that long,” she said. Welding gets me out of school at 11 to come here (to the Tech Center), be with all these kids that I now call my welding family.”
What is your dream? “I absolutely love just welding and I would be fine doing whatever (in welding). I just want to be able to have a stable living off of welding, make a stable income and provide and support a family of my own someday.”
Why is this your dream? “I just love trades. I grew up with my dad being a lineman, so I was raised around blue-collar men all the time. All of my uncles are linemen and my dad’s brothers are farmers, so, really, just everything — I love trades.”
How are school and your teachers helping you achieve your dream? “My teachers here, they push me and they help me succeed. If I don’t understand something and they can’t help me with it, they’ll find a student who can, and if the student can’t (help) then they’ll go out of their way to do any and everything they can for me to help me out. They just believe in me and push me to be my best … They never once made me think that I’m not able to do something.
‘I think welding is the best type of therapy somebody could do, honestly.’— junior Grace Kober
“I just absolutely love this program. All the teachers in the welding program have made it just the best environment I can be in — this became like my second home, to be honest. They were all so welcoming and helpful.”
What else do you like about your welding experience? “I’ve met so many people in this welding program and have made so many new bonds, even with the second-year (students). I’m friends with more of the second years than the first years (even though) I’m a first year. The second years help me out so much and they call me their little sister — I basically call them my older siblings. We’re just like a big, loving family.
“Being able to come here and know that I have… a family of my own to help me, it’s the best feeling in the world. That has helped me more than anything else has.”
What would you tell someone considering a welding career? “I think welding is the best type of therapy somebody could do, honestly. If you love making a fire and not getting in trouble for it, definitely go for welding because I make sparks all the time — I see fire every single day and when I make that fire, I don’t get in trouble for it and it’s kind of fun.
“And yeah, I may get mad and throw my plates on the ground but, then again, there’s always another chance that I can get to try again. Welding is frustrating because it’s not going to come super-natural — it’s going to take practice and practice.”