Airgas USA, a welding supply company from Flagstaff, delivered $10,000 worth of free welding equipment and supplies to Page High School’s welding program on April 27.
The equipment included brand new welding hoods, various welding tools – such as pliers and channel locks – welding gloves and personal protective equipment for the students, as well as argon and CO2 gas – pretty much everything a welding student needs to succeed in his or her class.
“This is going to have a huge impact for my welding students, and on our program,” said Sam Rangel, Page High School welding instructor.
“I feel absolutely blessed and honored to be selected. We’ve been in need of new tools for some time. They get used hard and they get old and worn out. This will replenish our tools so that every student during a class period will have their own tools, rather than having to share between students.”
Rangel said he plans to keep a set of the new welding hoods aside for his students who attend competitions so they’ll have a nice-looking uniform.
The award is a direct testament to Rangel’s dedication and the positive direction he’s taking the high school’s welding program.
“I want to remind our community that our welding program is here to help,” said Rangel.
“In our country right now, we’re experiencing a skills gap. There are more skilled-labors jobs than there are skilled workers to fill the jobs. Graduating skilled welders will lessen that skills gap.”
Rangel takes great pride in teaching the next generation of America’s welders.
“Having skilled welders keeps America competitive on the world stage, being a strong industrial nation, being a world country and having to rely less on foreign help,” he said.
Rangel teaches a little more than 100 students in his welding classes. He teaches first-time welders who don’t know anything about the craft, all the way to advanced students.
The goal of the high school welding program is to help all interested students graduate from high school with a welding certification that can get them an entry-level position in the welding industry.
The welding supplies that were given to PHS’s welding program came from the 2022 Airgas High School Welding Education Initiative, an annual program Airgas sponsors to help successful high school welding programs meet their needs.
Page High School was one of 30 schools across the country that won this year’s Airgas High School Welding Education Initiative. Airgas has been a supplier and supporter of Page High School’s welding program for decades, and the two organizations have a long history of cooperation. Eden Lainoff, Airgas branch manager in Flagstaff, nominated Page High School’s welding program for the $10,000 award.
“Sam [Rangell] and I talked on the phone, and I asked him what his program needed,” said Lainoff. “We went through a list of high-priority to low-priority items they needed and submitted their application.”
Airgas was more than happy to award the PHS welding program with $10,000 worth of equipment, said Don Dexter, Airgas district manager. He sees it as a win-win for both the high school and his own company.
“We like to partner with schools, because the way we see it, this continues our industry,” said Dexter. “The students today learning to weld will be our customer tomorrow. The people in the skilled trades, like welding, are very important to the success of our business, as well as the success of our country.
“And we were especially happy to give this to Page’s welding program. This program has been turning out quality welders for decades. I doubt you could visit a jobsite that requires welders anywhere in our region without finding a welder that didn’t come through Page High School’s welding program. We are happy to help keep that tradition going.”
Chuck Sharp, PUSD’s career and technical education director, is thrilled at the work being performed by Rangel and his welding students and is looking forward to seeing what amazing things they’ll do with the new equipment.
“It’s great to have an industry partner like Airgas,” said Sharp. “We’re very appreciative of the support they give to us.”