Helena High School was among eight recipients to receive $1,000 in grant money from the Montana Contractors Association Education Foundation.
These grants are given to schools' industrial arts programs as a way to raise awareness of construction careers. Helena High will use the grant money to repair and improve the tables in its shop.
"Our tables are something we have to replace every couple of years and their time is up," said Cindy Galbavy, Helena High welding instructor. She said some of the layout tables look like they hadn't been replaced since the '70s.
The plan is to replace tops on two of the layout tables. Additionally, they will be putting stands on the smaller tables that will allow students to weld in any position.
"We received this grant last year and it helped with our weld-off competition against Capital High School," Galbavy said. "This year we are using it to update our shop."
Galbavy said about 160 students go through Helena High's welding shop every day.
"We have companies contacting us every day asking if we have kids ready for the workforce," Galbavy said. "Demand is up and there aren't enough people doing trades."
Helena High was joined by schools in Belt, Great Falls, Missoula, Highwood, Lodge Grass and Whitehall as grant recipients.
The foundation board evaluates applications based on whether the applicants partnered with MCA member companies for their event/project, whether the event/program coordinates with construction week in October, and how the event/project will impact the students' understanding of opportunities in the construction industry and overall creativity.
Helena High has an extensive welding program as part of its career and technical education department. There are three welding instructors and four levels of welding courses.
Welding II through IV offer dual credit options with both Helena College and Missoula College welding courses. Helena High offers on-the-job training for students 18 and older through a welding co-op.