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A new cemetery sign – brought to Yuma by Gila Ridge welding students
Four Gila Ridge High School welding students – Darin Soto, Cole Lancaster, Wallace Fulford and Sergio Martinez – and their instructor, Michael Young, had very important business to attend to Thursday morning: the unveiling of their entrance sign for the Yuma Territorial Prison Cemetery.
After a semester designing plans, spacing bars of steel, grinding metal, cutting and drilling rivets and the like, students from Young's advanced welding class had crafted a work fitting of the prison – with supports reminiscent of the prison's cell gates.
"We learned a lot while working on this, gained a lot of knowledge," student Darin Soto said. "We've made mistakes; Mr. Young corrected us to teach us how to do it properly so we're able to do it right ... It's a good job skill to have. Everyone needs welders."
Speaking on how he and his peers value studying welding in Michael Young's class, senior Wallace Fulford added that, "It's one job that can't be replaced with robots!"
The students' work is part of Career & Technical Education (CTE) at the Yuma Union High School District, but it also aids the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in its plans to enhance the entire cemetery. Yuma Territorial Prison Manager Mike Guertin shared that he hopes to see fencing work begin by October 2023 as the task will resolve safety concerns.
"You can see the whole fence right now," Guertin said. "It's all sharp, falling down, and it's more about safety than the look. And this here with this construction, it'll be here 100 years so no one will have to worry and we'll have that look – it does have a nice look."