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Welders are in demand; Perham schools offer course to fill need

An old-fashioned, but high demand, trade and high technology learning will offered over the next two months in the Perham-Dent schools.

A welding class is scheduled to begin in December on the school campus.

Meanwhile, a new, online program will be implemented in January at the Perham Alternative Learning Center.

Welding is a well-paying trade, but there are simply not enough welders.

"They can't find enough welders in this area," said Fred Sailer, Alternative Learning ?Center director, who outlined the program at the Nov. 19 Perham-Dent School Board meeting.

The class is intended for alternative learning students, and will be offered at no cost. Two college credits can be earned through the course. The class will be taught by staff from either the Alexandria or Wahpeton vocational colleges.

The instruction is six hours a day, with both classroom and hands-on, practical work. The class will be taught in a mobile trailer unit, probably on school property across from the elementary school in Perham.

The ALC has been working with Rural Mn CEP and MSCTC to introduce students to college-level experiences.

"We believe that if these young people learn the basics of welding, they will be able to get their foot in the door and continue their training on the job site," stated Sailer.

He also noted that the welding class, like most ALC programs, is funded through earmarked funds--mostly from the state. Consequently, the programs don't impact the school's general operating budget.

Online program to be introduced at ALC

ALC staff members Jace Hennagir and Jenni Melverne spoke on the online program called Star Suite.

The education program serves at risk and alternative ed students from middle school to high school.

At the middle school, the program helps assess students' strengths and weaknesses, and provides individualized courses to help students catch up and succeed.

At the high school level, the computer program can be customized to help pass state exams, and can be tailered to help focus on specific educational needs.

There is also a program for adults to pass the GED exams.

The cost of the program is based on a "per chair" basis.

The Perham-Dent School Board approved the program, buying 15 seats at $400 each.

Online program for high school presented

Online and high-tech learning programs are becoming necessary for schools to consider, in order to maintain and grow enrollment.

"It's like Pandora's Box, we took the lid off and we have to keep up with it or we lose market share forever," said Superintendent Tamara Uselman.

A computer-based education program for Perham High School was also outlined at the Nov. 19 school board meeting.

Librarian Tom Tomporowski showed on an overhead how the program works. The online classes and materials were prepared by PHS?faculty, and subjects range from world studies to mass media to environmental studies.

"In ten years, it will be an absolute toss-up as to what education will look like. So we have to keep rolling to stay with it," said Uselman.