Norwell cuts ribbon on Precision Machine program

Norwell High School celebrated the addition of its precision machining program Friday with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

The program was made possible through a $480,000 grant from the Don Wood Foundation and local partnerships. The school was able to purchase multiple types of industry-standard equipment to develop a large breadth of transferable skills. It also joins the expanding list of career and technical courses available to all Wells County students. 

Susan Mendenhall, vice president of programs at the Don Wood Foundation, was present Friday to mark the occasion. 

“Young people can’t be what they can’t see,” Mendenhall said. “And this is an opportunity to invest in the future of individuals who are going to join our workforce and help build thriving communities in Wells County and beyond. We’re just so pleased to have that opportunity.”  

“From the manufacturers of Wells County, we’re all very excited,” said Greg Roembke of the Adams Wells Manufacturing Alliance. “Every company in Wells County that’s in manufacturing has been a part of this process, through helping spec out equipment, to the layouts, to giving advice for what we’re looking for in new hires. I guarantee you, every single manufacturer in Wells County is hiring right now — every single one. And these are phenomenal jobs.”

In the program’s inaugural year, about 20 students have taken the course from teacher Dusty Clifton. Clifton worked in the industry for over 20 years and has relished the opportunity to introduce students to a possible career pathway. With what might be considered a rather technical role, the hours spent with students discovering their passion and ability have tugged on Clifton’s heartstrings. 

Clifton particularly commended two students, Calvin Cozad and Landon Daniel, who used the machine tools to make keychains for the classroom’s guests. The keychains were rectangular metal tags etched with the words “Norwell Precision Machining” and attached to a key ring.

Multiple school administrators and leaders credited Kloer as a driving force in the project’s completion.

“If it wasn’t for (Kloer), championing this program, it wouldn’t have happened,” said Chad Kline, executive director of Wells County Economic Development.

Kloer herself was rather sentimental, calling it “five years in the making.” She described how seeing the students interact with the machinery or hearing them explain how they etched the keychains gave her “hope for the next generation.” 

“We want to have something for all students, regardless of what the interest might be, what the need might be, what their goals might be,” Norwell Community Schools Superintendent Mike Springer stated. “We want to have a program for everybody, and so this is a big part of that.”

Roembke added, “This is going to really help the community train the kids and want them to stay here as well because then they’re gonna get exposed to all the opportunities that Wells County has.”

Story by Holly Gaskill, Courtesy of the News-Banner


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