RHS FFA welding team takes first place

Thursday, March 15, 2012
Rector High School seniors Zach Gilbee and Dylan Eubanks and junior Matt Blount took top prize at the NEA Weld-a-Thon held recently at the ASU Newport Jonesboro campus. Pictured is the winning cart they built, along with a welder, grinder and various other team and individual prizes they won. (Photo by Candy Williams)

A Rector High School welding team took first place in the third annual NEA Weld-a-Thon held Friday, Feb. 17, at the Arkansas State University Newport Jonesboro campus.

The competition included tests in welding, print reading, fabrication, oxy fuel cutting and a written test of welding knowledge and safety.

This year's competition reached over 20 high schools in five counties. There were two divisions, one for high school shop/ag classes and one for high school students who receive welding training through a career center or college.

Each school was able to send three students to the competition to compete as a team.

The Rector team, which includes seniors Dylan Eubanks and Zach Gilbee and junior Matt Blount, landed the coveted first place trophy, bragging rights and many other prizes.

At the beginning of the welding competition, each team was presented with blueprints for a specialized utility cart and had four hours to complete the cart to exact specifications.

As overall team winners, Dylan, Matt and Zach each were awarded a full year tuition scholarship to the ASU Newport Jonesboro campus Technical Center in Jonesboro.

In addition, the team won an arch welder for use of the Rector FFA program.

Blount also won the individual virtual welding competition and won a new helmet for his efforts.

"The competition was fun, but it was difficult finishing such a big project in such a short amount of time," said Gilbee, whose future plans include getting a degree in criminology.

"I've been welding for about four years and will be working at ARI this summer," said Eubanks, whose future plans include becoming a helicopter pilot.

"I can't wait to go back next year. I would love to win another year's worth of tuition," said Blount.

"I am so proud of these boys for winning. They are talented, fierce competitors," said FFA sponsor Craig Dewey. "I am thrilled they performed so well. The arc welder they won for our school is a very expensive, awesome piece of equipment that retails for around $2,654. We will certainly be putting it to good use."

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