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Ryan Kuntz, a student in the Halliday welding program, demonstrates stick welding Thursday in Halliday.

Halliday school, BSC foster welding alliance

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When Halliday Public School welding instructor Duane Hart came to the school in 1999 to teach high school welding classes, he had no idea it would grow to what it has now become.

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Now the program allows for students to receive their degree from college.

Announced in early May, Bismarck State College will be teaming up with Halliday Public Schools with its welding technology program. Students in the program can earn a program certificate or an associate in applied science degree.

Initially offered only to high school students, Hart said the program grew after a few years, after some area farmers showed interest in a night program, which the school subsequently offered.

"We thought we'd try it and we're still going," Hart said. "It turned out really well and we started getting students from further and further away."

Starting with limited amounts of equipment, the class sizes grew and so did the need for additional equipment. With help from local residents and support from the school board, along with funding from the Southwest Rural Economic Area Partnership, additional equipment was purchased and the facility was expanded.

"I gave them (REAP) a wish list of items," Hart said. "They gave us a good head start."

Now the facility offers 27 welding stations and has seen about 125 welders go through the program and placed in jobs.

"We've been going ever since," said Dennis Frafford, assistant instructor for the program. "We've always been self-supporting. We operated on a shoestring budget in the beginning, but we kept it going."

The current program is offered during both the day and the evening.

Evening classes are offered from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, while day classes, set up for those who wish to more quickly progress through the program, are offered Monday through Thursday.

"My dad's been a welder for 40 years and I've always wanted to weld," said Kyle Messer, a student out of the Bismarck/Mandan area.

Adam Zent, a student from Dickinson said he likes the program and might continue with the BSC program, once it begins.

Students are not required to go through the BSC program if they choose not to.

"When the college came here to look at our facility, they said they wish they had this thing," Hart said. "It's really been great."

An added benefit, Hart said, is students can receive financial aid through the college partnership.

"Some students that would have to pay for the tuition themselves couldn't afford it," Hart said. "Now they can get some financial help through the college."

Currently, tuition is set at $950 per 200 hour session.

"The whole program can, in fact, be earned in Halliday, we're now a satellite campus," said Ron Biberdorf, program administrator for Halliday Public Schools.

Biberdorf said the Halliday and BSC alliance allows for students to go between the two sites if they so choose.

"They could go to Halliday and do the welding, or they could also go on campus and do the academic requirements," Biberdorf said.

There is a need for welders within the state and southwest North Dakota, said Drake Carter, BSC provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"We're very excited about the program overall. Halliday has a nice facility," Carter said. "It really allows us to extend our program into western North Dakota. Halliday has the facility, has the instructors and really all we're doing is matching up the curriculum so that students there can be a BSC student and get financial aid if he or she qualifies."

The program will begin this fall, however the workforce training component Halliday has offered in the past will continue through the summer.

Hart said he's amazed at how well things have come together.

"Everything has been going well," Hart said. "It's all just fallen into place."

Students who wish to enroll in welding for the fall semester at the Halliday site should contact BSC Admissions at 224-2475.

For more information about the program, visit www.halliday.k12.nd.us.

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