When the new and improved Euclid High School facility is unveiled in fall 2020, the campus will have a number of new amenities, including an indoor-outdoor 9,000-square-foot welding lab. It’s a fitting (and long-awaited) development for the school’s celebrated welding program, which has ranked among the country’s top five for the last decade.
“What the new lab will do is allow us to do all of our projects in our [home] lab at EHS,” says head welding instructor Ryan Eubank. Currently, the program utilizes facilities at Lincoln Electric and Lakeland Community College in teaching participants about trades including welding, fabricating, design, and engineering.
Eubank briefs his students at competitionMore than that, Eubank hopes the new lab will enable him to accommodate more students in the welding program. Last year, 87 students applied, and only 16 new students were accepted, according to Eubank. (The program typically has 32 students total — half juniors and half seniors.)
“That's 71 kids who didn’t get the opportunity to be in my class,” says Eubank. “That’s 71 kids whose lives I couldn’t change or whom I couldn’t help get on the right path for success.”
Though Eubank says it’s not uncommon for his students to make $40 per hour right out of high school, he believes the program's true value comes from its community service aspect. Over the last 14 years, Eubank’s students have completed more than 165,000 collective hours of community service — from creating decorations for University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital’s “Ride the Rainbow” event to a 12-foot by 18-foot shed for the City Mission’s gardening program.
Other projects to date have included building Christmas decorations for Lake Metroparks Farmpark, building a flagpole for downtown Willoughby, and helping build a playground for the city of Willoughby Hills. One of Eubank’s favorite class projects is Phillip the Fire Truck, a 1986 fire engine pumper that now serves as an interactive museum and roving teaching tool for 10,000 elementary school students annually.
“It’s not about welding that I teach my students, it’s about teaching the right way to live their life,” says Eubank. “With that knowledge, there is no skill, trade, or craft they can’t master.”
Medalists at SkillsUSA (EHS gold medalist Matthew Frato on far right)Entering competitions is another prominent element of the program, with students competing in states like Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio. In April, EHS Welding students took home four gold and silver medals at the SkillsUSA state competition in Columbus. “Welding is our sport,” says Eubank. “[Competing] allows my students to have a vision of where they can go and how they can get there upon graduation.”
Eubank is proud of the program’s alums, who’ve gone on to attend schools like West Point and Urbana University. Many of them take on gainful employment upon graduation, working as boilermakers, certified welding inspectors, and fabrication supervisors. Eubank’s former student Jesse Srpan won a custom bike building competition on the Discovery Channel in 2014 and was selected to exhibit at Sturgis in 2019.
“Many of my former students are now hiring my current students,” says Eubank. “It’s amazing the full circle this welding program has become. We haven’t just created a culture, we’ve created a family.”