Communication Builds Our Community

Roosevelt Academy Programs Producing Workforce-Ready Graduates

Welding, Agriculture Programs Cooperating in Traning

A new welding program at Roosevelt Academy is allowing students to learn basic and advanced welding techniques, preparing them for immediate careers.

Courtesy Tracy Sempert

Antonio Castillo (L), Gregory Jackson, and Fred Miller were happy to see the completion of the student welding project which created a new goat pen for the Agriculture department.

Students involved in the program also receive dual enrollment credits that could be used to further their welding training at Ridge Technical College. Seniors planning to take the test this year, including Fred Miller, Joseph Fletcher, McLens Pierre, and Juan Villalpando, will receive certification by the American Welding Society Association permitting immediate entry into the workforce.

"This certification will allow them to become certified welders upon graduating high school," said welding instructor Gregory Jackson.

Jackson, the former Senior Welding Instructor at Ridge Technical College, says that "Roosevelt Academy CTE programs are the best kept secret in Polk County."

Jackson says he believes in a better tomorrow. "I see the opportunity for students to have a fulfilling future through the welding program," he said. "Roosevelt Academy is the best environment at which I have ever taught. I appreciate the respect of the students and they respect me as well. I love coming to work and sharing my knowledge of welding. It can be life-changing and gives even struggling students a purpose."

Roosevelt Academy, a Polk County "magnet choice" school, is located at 115 E Street in Lake Wales, described as "a learning community that fosters a culture of high-quality educational practices to challenge all students to achieve at their greatest potential."

Courtesy Tracy Sempert

Construction of a new goat pen at Roosevelt Academy was a joint project of the Agriculture and Welding classes. The school provides career-path training for students as well as dual-enrollment credits for students advancing to Ridge Technical College.

The welding program aligns with the school's mission to provide a supportive and caring environment in which students can be successful in meeting high expectations for academic success.

The program was initiated last year but has been years in the making. Much of the success of the program is due to donations by the Gassett and Garcia families that totaled $20,000. The funds have been used for MIG and TIG welding machines, stock, and welding booths.

While the welding team stands on its own, they have collaborated with the Agriculture department to fabricate a pen project to house livestock, particularly goats.

Ray Cruze, the school's agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, said he is delighted to have such a "unique working agriculture department that houses many different aspects that are showcased each day." Cruze is also a Certified Horticulture Professional who teaches the school's gardening programs.

"These departments include both plant sciences and animal sciences that provide raising and learning opportunities for rabbits, chickens, and soon, goats," Cruze said. "The collaboration with welding shows our students that both welding and agriculture are interconnected in the trade industry, and they both rely on each other. Students have been able to witness the collaboration between the two classes to construct the goat pens and have been a part of the planning and production process. Students have been able to firsthand see how important welding is to agriculture, and vice versa."

Courtesy Tracy Sempert

(L to R) McLens Pierre, Joseph Fletcher, Fred Miller, Principal Carla Wiggs, Antonio Castillo, Gregory Jackson, Ray Cruze, and Kaitlynn Turley were among those gathered to celebrate the completion of the new animal pens for the Agriculture department at Roosevelt Academy.

"Students have been responding positively to the idea of having livestock on campus and have been looking forward to the day when the goat pen is completed so they can meet the newest additions," added Kaitlynn Turley, a second agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor. "We are a two-teacher team that adds opportunities for our students and opens more doors for them to compete in more FFA events and programs."

The agriculture department has also partnered with the city's CRA Legacy Housing program by helping to install raised bed planters for homes that are renovated in the Northwest Neighborhood.

Cruze pointed out that "for over 30 years, Roosevelt's agriculture program has been heavily involved in community events while enhancing academic and vocation skills in our students."


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