North Valley students are leaving their mark at a local air museum

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Brandy Hopkins has a passion for welding. It was first "sparked" by watching her father as a young a child. (KFSN)

Brandy Hopkins has a passion for welding. It was first "sparked" by watching her father as a young a child. "I saw him build a trailer form scrap metal, and it came out perfect, so that's what I wanted to do."

She followed in his footsteps by joining the award winning AG program at Atwater High School four years ago. It's one of the largest in the nation, where students can learn everything from how to grow plants, to carpentry skills, and of course, welding.

"It's not just farming and everything, it's more about where you want to go, what you want to do," said Hopkins.

One of the projects Hopkins has built is a custom staircase and platform giving people access to a presidential plane at Castle Air Museum. It's the 4th staircase Atwater AG students have made to help the non-profit show off dozens of military aircraft. They also built an archway leading into a memorial area near the former air force one.

"Without their support it would be a lot more difficult to achieve and attain what we do. They're such a valuable component to the museum, and they get an education out of it too," said Joe Pruzzo, Castle Air Museum.

Curator Tony Rocha works directly with the students. He tells them what's needed and provides the materials, but they do the rest in exchange for community service hours. "They treat it as a job, we treat them like they're working for us, and they come on and are very responsible for what they do, they do the best and I'm just, I couldn't be happier working with them."

Helping the museum is especially rewarding for Hopkins because she has family members who have served in the armed forces and plans to join the Navy after graduation. "When I get into the military I want to become a welder and mechanic so I will be using the skills I've learned at Atwater high in my future."
Related Topics:
educationgood newsnon-profitcastle airportstudentshigh schoolmerced countyAtwater
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