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Students prove where there's a weld, there's a way

"He's been involved with the project ever since the ship came in, about 12 years ago," Rizzuto said of Witte.

While the school has been involved in several small projects on the ship, Rizzuto said this is the biggest the school has ever participated in.

Aside from the history the students learned while constructing the racks, Witte said the project helped advance their skills in welding.

"Realistically, it's like a partnership," said Witte. "What the Slater does, in some ways, is what we're teaching."

Witte also said the project allows students to gain interest in something through school that is not just about academics.

"For the students, it's sort of a good deal because they realize that they're working on something that's not just for a grade," he said.

The project began with students completing a computer design of exactly what they would be building. Next, they learned about the metal work that would be involved in constructing the racks.

Witte said the high school was able to involve technology classes and students in automotive courses in the project.

"Frequently, in our welding class, we teach the skill of welding because engineers need to learn how to weld," said Witte. "Also, in the automotive classes that we have, the cars that we work on are made out of metal."

Hanley said that in his classes, he ties together automotive lessons and the USS Slater by working with the same metal that is used on cars to fabricate the actual metal that was used on the fixtures on the USS Slater.

Hanley said the high school's technology department was proud to accept the award and that he is not yet sure what project the students will be working on next for the USS Slater, but he is sure there will be future collaborations.

"It's a win-win for everybody," he said.

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