In high school, classes can feel creatively limiting to students. With curriculum benchmarks,AP and STAAR tests to prepare students for, there’s little time to learn anything else. This creates a learning environment where students have little opportunity to explore their identity and passions, or learn practical, real-world skills. . In some cases, students decide to educate themselves in topics they are interested in, which is exactly what juniors Kate Singer and Amelia Bagnaschi did.
Singer and Bagnaschi founded the Ann Richards School Welding Club in the early months of the semester. When placing the orders for their letterman jackets earlier this fall, they noticed the Welding Club patch and decided that welding was something they both wanted to learn how to do and earn a patch for.
“Clubs and activities look really good on college applications,” Bagnaschi said. “I felt like I hadn’t participated as much as I wanted to in school. Kate and I just had the idea and saw the patch and felt like a welding club would be a really good time.”
Singer and Bagnaschi met with Principal Kristina Waugh, Mr. Oren Connell, and Mr. Matt Smith to get a sponsor for their club and get approval from administration.
“We were in the Makerspace talking about forming a club,” Singer said. “Mr. Smith overheard us and said ‘I want to be your sponsor!’ and then the club was born.”
Throughout the whole experience of founding the Welding Club, the girls were met with immense support from the Ann Richards teachers, administration, and foundation.
“They’ve welcomed it wholeheartedly,” Bagnaschi says. “When we were pitching the idea for this club our teachers and admin really wanted to see it prosper.”
Clubs are not only a great way to have fun and learn a new skill, but also to gain leadership experience and learn management skills. As a club founder, Kate Singer must frequently think about the Welding Club from a logistical standpoint.
“Next year, once the club is more in place and set up, we want to have more members,” Singer said. “Although, there is a lot to learn and prepare for before you can actually start welding so a smaller club is more manageable and safer.”
Bagnaschi and Singer also plan and guide projects, organize meetings, and arrange storage for welding equipment.
“We’ve just been finding little nooks and crannies to store all of our stuff,” Singer said. “In the art room and in the Makerspace; underneath tables, on top of air conditionings, and outside of bathrooms.”
The club keeps their smaller materials and tools in a wagon that they transport around the school, but as the club develops further they hope to have a more organized and permanent space. The welding club currently has seven members, one of which is junior Emily Doucette.
“In Welding Club you get to hang out with cool people and also play with hot fiery things,” Doucette said. “Soldering is fun, and welding is just like extreme soldering”
As the club grows in size and in skill level, the members have big dreams for the future.
“I envision us doing a lot of art projects,” Singer said. “We may also get really good at maintenance welding so that if anything around the school breaks we can fix it, and have a lot of fun.”