Patriotic spin on welding

Grafton High School technology students use their talents to salute local veterans
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Teacher Mike Dodge’s welding classes at Grafton High School got into the patriotic spirit at the end of the school year, and their endeavors provided a $1,000 contribution to the Rose-Harms American Legion Post in Grafton.

Reflecting on the project and its success, Dodge said, “There’s a sense of patriotism in the community here, and a lot of respect for veterans.

 “It was fun and the kids really got into it. Their uncles and fathers and neighbors are veterans. It’s nice to help the veterans.”

The project, Dodge said, had its roots in a casual conversation, with one of the students who was interested in making a metal flag and wanted to find out how to do it.

They worked on a prototype, and Dodge, who had seen a Facebook post noting that the Legion hadn’t been able to rent out its hall as it usually does due to the pandemic, got an idea.

“I said, ‘We could make some of these flags to help them out,” Dodge recalled.

The flags, he said, are somewhat abstract, with the stars and white stripes cut out “so that if you put it on a white wall, the white of the stripes and the stars will show through.”

For the roughly 25 students, the project was as much to do with learning as it did supporting veterans, Dodge said, noting there was some trial and error in figuring out how to fabricate the flags and paint them.

To make the flags, the students used materials donated to the classes, including round plate steel given to the class several years ago by Waukesha Metals in Grafton and metal tubing from Kapco’s Kids2Kids holiday light show. The class helped to cut materials for awnings used in the show, and Kapco donated the rest of the one-inch tubing to the school.

The classes were divided into groups, and they spent the last three to four weeks of school working on the project.

There were a few glitches with the flags that the class had to troubleshoot, Dodge said.

For example, the students spray painted the flags red and blue but had issues with the paint bubbling.

“It didn’t look good. If we’re going to sell a product, we want to make sure it looks nice,” Dodge said.

They sanded the metal and repainted, then clear coated the flags so they could be used indoors or out.

Dodge marketed the flags by word of mouth, telling school faculty and staff, as well as parents, about the project.

They set the price of each flag at $75.

“Even though the materials were donated, the students needed to understand there was a cost and you have to price things appropriately,” Dodge said, adding the class only made 10 of the 13-by-22-inch flags.

The response was heartening, he said — so much so that he may repeat the project next year.

 “There’s a good chance that if the school year goes good, we might try to do it again and get it done by Veterans Day,” Dodge said. “That’s the optimal goal.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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