Challis High School students cut, measured and welded steel into seven clothing racks for the HUB thrift store and delivered them Nov. 6.

Tom Coates, who teaches the welding program, said he was contacted by HUB volunteer Shirley Tusberg about the racks. She said the thrift store needed new, mobile racks the volunteers could easily move. Coates saw an opportunity to give back to the community and teach life skills to his students.

“The HUB supports all that we do in the ag shop,” Coates said. “They donate a substantial amount in scholarships and support the FFA. This is a chance for the kids to give back.”

Work on the project began Oct. 9. Sophomores and juniors in the advanced welding class made the racks. The class is part of the school district’s career and technical education program. It is designed to help students prepare for jobs after graduation. Coates embraces that approach and has his students treat projects like work orders.

“My methodology is to treat the kids like professionals, which means making them fill out time cards and keep track of costs,” said Coates.

Coates said students take what they learn in math, English and other subjects and apply that to real-world situations through welding. For example, he said, students need to have an understanding of angles and symmetry so the racks they’re building aren’t lopsided when completed.

Some students, like sophomore Deaviney Bouren, excel at the work. Coates said Bouren is “as good as they come” and expects she will do well after graduation. Bouren said she would like to go into the mechanics’ program at the College of Western Idaho after she graduates. As a “hands on kind of person” and after a tour of the community college’s campus, she believes they offer the best place for her to continue her education.

Cayden Zollinger is a sophomore who came into the welding program with about five years of experience under his belt. He said he enjoys doing projects like the clothing racks because it gives him a chance to practice his skills.

“Every day I learn something new,” said Zollinger. “I do any project Coates gives me and community projects come first.”

Coates said materials for each rack costed about $50. The racks are made of special steel piping Coates bought from Partner Steel in Pocatello and the wheels came from Allied Builders Supply in Challis. Coates said whenever possible he tries to shop at local businesses as a thanks for the support the welding program receives from the community.

“The community has been good to us,” said Coates. “A lot of our projects involve us taking the kids out into the community and doing local stuff.”

Along with the racks, Coates has students building gates for local ranchers.

Coates said the students have enough material to make eight more racks for the HUB. He said his hope for the project, and for the welding program, is that students leave with a better understanding of what it means to do professional work.

“Kids are kids,” said Coates. “But I want them to learn life has responsibilities and you need to work with what you got sometimes.”

Students like Logan Bailey appreciate that because he said it shows him what to expect outside of school.

“The class teaches you how you’ll be treated by your employer,” said Bailey.

Bailey said the rack project is important because it gives the class an opportunity to say thanks to the HUB for its support of high school programs.

“When the HUB donates to programs like FFA, it gives us a chance to see new things and experiences,” said Bailey. “This is our way to give back.”