Welding class sparks dream for St. Helens man
Photos and Story by Janis Nichols
Hunter Ogle knows himself better than most 18 year olds. He knows what works for him and he knows how he wants his life to unfold. For a person who is autistic and also challenged by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), he is remarkably focused and confident.
As luck would have it, PCC offers welding classes at St. Helens High School, so when Hunter graduated in June, it was an easy transition for him to make. Ogle enrolled in Welding 111 and completed the eight-week course in five weeks and earned a final grade of 90 percent. His next goal is a wire feed welding course which he will finish in December.
“Ms. (Bonnie) Adams, a substitute welding instructor, told me about the welding class,” he said. “My parents thought I could do it, but I had some doubts. I figured I could do the welding, but the writing part of the class had me worried. I’m proud and surprised by my success.”
Hunter enjoys building things, an interest that started in this grandpa’s wood shop when Ogle was very young.
“I spent a lot of time with him and I loved listening to his war stories,” Ogle said. “When he died in 2012, I got the wood shop. Now I’m interested in welding. It fascinates me. I don’t like to sit and sitting still for someone like me is really hard. But with welding, I can focus and with welding I can be still.”
When he’s not in class, Ogle works part time at Sande Performance Horses in Warren. On the job for four years, he says he “scoops poop” and rides and helps other people who are autistic.
“Working with horses clears your mind and helps you relax,” he said. “My favorite horse is Luke. He knows me and he’s always taking my hat.”
The autism and ADHD diagnosis came last September, and for Ogle, it was a relief.
“The diagnosis made me feel better about myself, he added. “A lot of things suddenly made sense. I’m very proud of everything I’ve accomplished. Someday I want to get married and have kids, and when I retire, I hope to move to Wyoming and buy some land and horses. That is a big dream but it’s what I want. I’ve been looking at that goal for a long time.”
Ogle is not the only person in the welding class with long term goals. Bonnie Adams has been the acting shop teacher at St. Helens High School for the past two years and says the partnership with PCC has allowed the high school program to expand.
“Having the college here has made it possible to buy new equipment and teach things we haven’t taught before,” Adams said. “It’s brought new energy to our program and last fall, winter and spring, all our classes were full. We’ve had fewer students this summer, but we expect better numbers come fall term.”
And among those students will be Hunter Ogle.