Sidney schools open new welding center

Sarah Eames | The Daily StarReed Scott, a 12th-grader at Sidney Central School, examines a MIG gun in the school's new Raymond Welding Center, which was unveiled during a ceremony Tuesday.

Students in the inaugural Raymond production class of 2019 cut a ceremonial ribbon Tuesday, marking the opening of a welding center at Sidney Central School. 

The welding center was a collaborative effort between the school district and the Chenango County-based Raymond Corporation, the latter of which supplied more than 300 pounds of scrap metal and provided training with the Toyota Production System, according to company officials.

Sidney seniors Reed Scott, Tanner Gifford, Ryan Harris, Phoenix Macrabie-Groat, Michael Gravelin and Dylan Lowe laid the groundwork for the program, which was designed to complement the metalworking curriculum at the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES. 

Eben Bullock, principal of the middle/high school, said he was inspired after a 2017 visit to the Raymond campus in Greene for the company’s annual Manufacturing Day, an open house for students from local schools.

“It’s a science and a lab credit,” Bullock said. “We wanted to build an authentic experience right here at school and not just have them sitting in a study hall.”

The students designed the workspace to optimize workflow, from the time metal components enter the shop to the moment the finished products go out the door, Bullock said. They leveled and refinished the floor of the former woodshop and manufactured storage racks, tables and other fixtures throughout the workroom.

The workspace also includes plasma cutters, band saws and welding torches, which were each selected by the students themselves.

“This is a way for the industry and the school district to work together,” said Tony Topencik, senior director of operations at Raymond. “The ability to learn and practice welding skills is a critical piece of development for students to work in Raymond and the community.” 

The students’ efforts will be commemorated with a plaque hung in the shop, and students in each graduating class will leave their mark by welding their names onto plates to be affixed to the center’s exterior sign.

“It’s great that people will look back at the plaques and see what we made and think that these guys gave us a lot to work with,” Gravelin said. “It’s been a great experience to learn how to fabricate things, fix things, and to come up with creative results.”

There are five students interested in enrolling in the program next year. Bullock said. The class will ideally accommodate five to 10 students but as many as 12.

“It will be nice to come back and see what other kids create,” Harris said. “It’s cool to be part of something like this and to maybe come back someday with my own kids and say ‘I was part of starting this.’”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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