Metals classes spark students’ creativity


Kelly Colanto

A Metals student in Beaven’s fifth period works on welding her most recent project.

Melissa May, Arts Writer

Despite having attended Fossil Ridge High School for three semesters already, the Metals classes are some of the courses that I knew the least about. I have never taken a Metals class and, beyond knowing that the fire last year started in the shop, there was not much that I knew about these classes. So, I went into the shop and talked to the Metals teacher, Herb Beaven, to find a story to pique the interest of Fossil students. Instead, I found interesting classes with hardworking students doing incredible projects throughout the semester.

While the Metals classes have been taught at Fossil previously, Beaven’s time teaching Metals at Fossil did not start until the beginning of the 2019 fall semester. “I’m honored to have the opportunity, not only to help students learn about engineering, robotics, metalworking, and welding, but to get to know them and let them know how incredible and awesome they are,” explained Beaven in regards to how rewarding it has been to teach at Fossil so far. This year, Metals 1, Metals 2, and Metals 3 classes are all being offered and taught by Beaven.

The Metals classes are some of the more art and creativity-based classes throughout Fossil. The projects they work on throughout the semester vary based on the level of the course. At the beginning of Metals 1, the students work on either a sheet metal project or a smaller scale welding project, like a tissue box holder, dustpan, or fruit dish, to help lay the foundation for their metalworking skills. By the time students advance through to Metals 3, students are able to branch out and work on much more advanced projects with less by-the-book instructions.

Beaven explained how the different projects break down, saying that “they all have their own challenging aspects… [but] sometimes he lets the students do a fun, free-form project… with a few guidelines, of course.” The Tech Department as a whole has plans that teach students how to use a design to execute any project and Beaven sticks to these plans, but he tries to give students some wiggle room to make their projects more unique.

The Metals classes not only develop skills in welding, but they also have many real-world connections as well. They acknowledge that not every student’s path is through college and an office job, so the Metals classes help students get hands-on experience that translates directly into the manufacturing industry or even students’ personal projects outside of school. Students are taught about using tools and equipment in the shop, how to use measurement devices in their metalworking, and how to apply all of their knowledge to the things they build, in class as well as outside of class.

Beaven would recommend that students take Fossil’s Metals classes because, even if students do not plan to go into a career with metalworking, the classes teach very marketable and useful skills. He stated that “you can have a lot of fun applying metalworking and welding skills to a multitude of projects” and the variety of projects that the Metals students get to work on is a perfect example of that. Even simply being exposed to welding and fabrication skills can be useful later on in life, and the Metals classes are one of the different classes that students can take to expand their skills outside of just common core academics.

Melissa May
As students progress through the Metals classes and become more familiar with the equipment, they are able to incorporate more creativity into their projects.

Before my look into the Metals classes, there were very few things about them that I could say for a fact, but one of them was that the fire last year originated in the shop. While Beaven was not teaching at Fossil when the fire happened, he can attest to all of the changes they have made to improve the shop’s safety. “There were a lot of improvements made with the support and help of our administration and district. Not only was the shop layout completely changed, but we’ve had some new equipment installed. Also, we have been able to go through and either fix or add to the equipment on both the Metals and Woods sides of the shop,” shared Beaven.

Alterations to the shop, such as new ventilation equipment for the plasma cutter and the welding room, have helped create a safer environment for the students so that Fossil does not end up with any repeats of last year’s fire. Beaven explained that “it has improved fire safety features, which was very important to [them]. Also, the overall shop layout has become less congested and safer with the welding and woods sides divided by a heavy-duty, spark-resistant curtain running South to North across the whole shop.” Safety is the top priority of the Tech Education classes and teachers, and the addition of new safety precautions has helped to create an overall more secure shop, for students and teachers.

So, despite initially going into the shop with a mentality of strictly wanting to find a story, I instead found some incredibly interesting electives where students are able to express themselves and create something they can be proud of. The Metals classes offer a unique opportunity to explore interests and go outside of the typical school comfort zone. The students and teachers are equally passionate about their work and it helps produce one of the most interesting dynamics in the school. Beaven wrapped up his thoughts on teaching the Metals classes, “I don’t think students hear [how incredible they are] enough, and I believe in them and their ability to do great things. At the end of the day, I realize I play a very small part in their lives, but teaching is still the most fulfilling and rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.”