Utah high school welding team reaches finals in national competition

Mar 25, 2018, 9:05 PM | Updated: Mar 27, 2018, 12:03 am

SPANISH FORK — If there’s one thing the boss doesn’t tolerate, it’s laziness.

“Commitment, dedication, hard work,” said Jared Massic, speaking of some of the lessons he tries to pass along to his students.

Massic’s been teaching shop at Maple Mountain High School for years.

Some of his students will admit they found him a bit intimidating at first.

“I was a little scared of him, actually,” said Sam Christmas. “He seemed a little mean.”

Of course, it’s a little difficult to be afraid of the man who rules with an iron fist when he looks like he’s still in high school.  

“He may look like a student, but he knows his stuff,” said Ladd Davis, another one of Massic’s students.

 “I think what keeps me so young looking is my jovial personality,” Massic said. “I act like them, I look like them, it’s just a good combination.”

 But despite his youthful appearance, there’s no doubt he’s critical of his students’ work, and the reason might just be because he wants to temper them with the fires of adversity.

 “When we make a mistake, he likes to point it out so we can fix it,” said Christmas.

A student works on a project in the shop at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork. (March 20, 2018)
A student lights a torch at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork. (March 20, 2018) A student cuts metal at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork. (March 20, 2018) One of Jared Massic's most important rules around his shop is to practice safety at all times. (March 20, 2018) A student sends sparks flying as he grinds metal at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork. (March 20, 2018) The grand prize in the "Weld it Forward" contest is $20,000 worth of welding equipment. (March 20, 2018) The students spent months assembling these tables, which they donated to families in Mexico. (March 20, 2018)  Jared Massic jokes around with a student in the shop at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork. (March 20, 2018)  Jared Massic looks around the shop to find a student in need of some pointers. (March 20, 2018)

But if you tried to call him “Mr. Massic,” he might not respond. “No, we just call him ‘Massic,’ usually,” Davis said.  “He doesn’t have the title ‘Mister.'”

“I’m just more on a personal level with them,” Massic said. “I want to make sure that they understand I’m a confidante. They can trust me.”

 And make no mistake, there are lessons here beyond shaping metal. He’s trying to forge adults from the raw elements of teenagers.

 “You show up on time, you do hard work, you get paid to be there, and then you go home,” Massic said. “I teach them a lot of things in the classroom that I think carries on to other careers as well.”

 But the most important lesson amid the soaring sparks in the shop is the one the students are learning from their teacher’s past.

 “I literally hated life,” Massic said. “It was so terrible doing customer support for a cell phone company. I want to teach shop.  I want to be out there building things with the kids. A lot of my students even ask me, ‘Massic, why aren’t you out in the field? You could be making double of what your teacher’s salary is,’ and money doesn’t really buy happiness.”

 But whether Massic’s students end up assembling careers with flame, or manufacturing lives in a different way, they’re certainly learning how to be a part of a team.

 “It was like a week before the deadline,” Massic said. “We were one of the final schools that they announced.”

 The team from Maple Mountain is one of three high school finalists in the entire country for the “Weld it Forward” contest.  Given a box of random materials, they were told to make something that lived up to the contest’s name.

 “Two of our students were going to Mexico for a humanitarian project,” Massic said.  “I said, ‘Why can’t we just find a way to piggyback? What do these people in Mexico need?’ We decided we were going to build these kitchen tables.”

 Massic’s no stranger to winning.  Last year, a group of his students brought home the national championship from the SkillsUSA Welding Fabrication competition.

 Unlike that competition, the winner in the “Weld it Forward” contest is determined by online voting. The grand prize is $20,000 worth of welding equipment for Massic’s shop.

 But win or lose, the lessons are clear: Sometimes, your teacher is tough because he cares. Sometimes, money isn’t everything.  And sometimes, the teacher who looks like a student learns just as much from the ones he’s paid to help.

 “There’s always going to be the ups and downs, and the ones who need to learn a lesson or two —and the ones who teach you a lesson or two,” Massic said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of the group of kids and what they’ve accomplished, because it’s not typical, right?”




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Utah high school welding team reaches finals in national competition