Forest-Scott CTC welding team headed to nationals

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

The Forest-Scott County Career and Technology three man Welding Fabrication team is planning their trip to the SkillsUSA Welding National Championships after winning the title as the best high school welding and fabrication team in the state of Mississippi. 

The team is led by welding instructor Justin Usry of Lake and includes Cole Nester of Lake High School, Landon Hardin of Scott Central Attendance Center and Conner Thrash of Sebastopol Attendance Center. The team defeated 187 other teams to win the state championship and earn a spot in the USASkills Nationals where they will face off against the 49 best teams in the country.

Usry is in his second year as welding instructor at the Forest-Scott County CTC and said the job the young men have done is amazing. “I cannot say enough about the job these three young men have done,” he said. “They competed against the best teams from around Mississippi without the benefit of classification to help. They were competing against all the schools in the state, even the 6A schools.” 

Just making it to the state competition was hard earned for the welding team. Their district included the much larger school West Point High School which was also the team that ended up finishing second in the state competition. The Forest-Scott CTC team had to defeat the second best team in the state on two separate pressure filled occasions to earn the right to represent the state of Mississippi at nationals in Louisville, Kentucky.

Usry said that his students already knew how to work hard when they joined his class. “The one advantage we have over the bigger city schools is that our kids are from rural areas and that means most of them already know how to work hard when they get here,” Usry explained. “All three of these guys are hard workers and they all knew a little about welding so they really picked everything up really quickly and have continued to get better.”

During the district and state competitions the welding teams were given a set of blueprints, a pallet of metal and four hours to complete the project as specified by the blueprints. After the four hours of allotted time for fabrication each teams’ project was judged by a panel on the specifications and final product. 

As a result of winning the district and state competitions all three team members have received full scholarships to East Central Community College. Also, each of the students received a $7,500 scholarship to Lincoln College of Technology in Nashville, TN. 

Forest-Scott CTC Director Timmy Fanguy said that he could not be prouder of the students. “Landon, Conner and Cole have done a wonderful job at representing the Forest-Scott County CTC as well as each of their high schools,” Fanguy said. “These three young men have shown just what can be achieved by working hard and learning from their instructors. This team went out and produced the best work in the state and that really says a lot about our students and our programs.”

“I can’t say enough about what the young men accomplished against schools of all sizes across this state,” said Ursry. “When I started here two years ago the welding program was struggling, but the new life that these three guys have brought to this program has really changed the furture for our welding program. When other students see the success of the these guys they want to do the same things and it really creates excitement.”

The welding team is currently honing their fabrication and welding skills by working on items that can be sold to raise money for the trip to nationals in June. The trip is expected to cost approximately $7,000. Other programs at the Forest-Scott CTC are chipping in to help their classmates earn money. The carpentry program and industrial maintenance program worked together in building hunting shoot houses that can be raffled off. Additionally, the team is looking for sponsors for t-shirts that can be sold to raise money. 

Anyone who would like to either sponsor the welding team or donate to the fundraising can contact either Justin Usry at 601-507-9089, Yancy Thrash at Ythrash@scott.k12.ms.us or the Forest-Scott County Career & Technology Center at 601-469-2913. 

SillsUSA is a United States career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs. The SkillsUSA Welding Championships will be held June 23 through June 28 in Louisville, KY.