High school senior goes through college commencement first
By LISA SINGLETON-RICKMAN
GREENHILL, Ala. (AP) — Rogers High School senior Caden Behel has a college commencement ceremony down, and one high school commencement to go.
The 18-year-old will graduate from Rogers on May 25, two weeks after he walked the stage at graduation from Northwest-Shoals Community College with two short-term certificates in welding — one in stick welding and one in mig welding.
Behel says he knows he hasn't chosen the most traditional of paths, but it's the one that's best suited for him.
Behel began with dual enrollment classes through Northwest-Shoals in the 11th grade. He also took summer classes at the college last year, and has done more dual enrollment classes this year.
"I've been in school year-round for a long time, but I love learning about this stuff so it has really gone by quickly," Behel said. "I knew pretty early on that this was what I wanted to do."
He recalled his first experience in career tech at Rogers. The class was doing woodwork making birdhouses and other things.
"I wasn't very into those birdhouses," he said jokingly.
"I remember being in there one day and I looked around and saw a machine in the corner. I asked about it and my teacher showed me some things. I was really interested and started doing simple stuff, running beads," he said. "The teacher was showing me some things and pretty soon I was showing him things he didn't know. He said, 'I think you need to just go on and take these (welding) classes.'"
Behel said it was the best advice he ever took.
His welding skills have grown and he has continued to excel. Earning such certification while still in high school is difficult and rare.
He's hoping his hard work will pay off, and he'll soon be selected to enter a five-year apprenticeship with the pipe fitters local. He'll find out next month if he's accepted.
If not, he'll continue his education at Northwest-Shoals Community College and seek his pipe fitter certification.
His goal is to be a certified welding instructor by the age of 23.
"I guess you could say I knew right away that this was my niche," he said. "Now, I'm just waiting to go to work."
His instructor at Allen Thornton Career Technical Center, Wesley Heathcoat, called Behel "a very bright, hands-on and inquisitive guy."
"I think he eats, sleeps and breathes welding," Heathcoat said. "I can see him going all the way with this. He's patient and willing to learn. I can see him having total success and reaching his goals."
Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/