Two recent local high school graduates are fabricating their own bright futures behind the welding torch, working full-time positions at S&S Welding in Petoskey. 

Caleb Cranick, 19, a 2021 Pellston High School graduate, and Adam Jones,18, a 2023 Petoskey High School graduate, were recently recognized as part of Char-Em ISD’s Career Tech to Careers initiative. Career Tech to Careers recognizes students who take career tech classes during high school and enter the workforce utilizing those CTE skills after graduation.

Caleb and Adam both fit that description. While at Pellston High School, Caleb took Welding Technology, Construction Technology, and PowerSports Technology, which focuses on small engineer repair. All are career and technical education classes offered in partnership with Char-Em ISD. Of the three skilled trades areas, Caleb decided to pursue welding for his career.

“It is interesting work with endless possibilities,” said Caleb, who joined the company in February 2023 as a full-time welder at about 40 hours per week.

Currently working on a custom handrail project, Caleb said he enjoys the variety of the projects at S&S. “When people say that everyone has to go to college after high school, I say look at us. We are doing great and making really good money,” he said. 

Adam is a 2023 Petoskey High School graduate who took the Automotive Technology class at PHS and traveled to Pellston to take the welding course during his senior year. He was hired by S&S in January 2023 and is now a full-time welding lead. 

His typical day starts at 7 a.m. with a couple meetings, then it’s straight to work on whatever custom jobs await. About his high school CTE class skills, Adam said: “I feel that they definitely gave me an upper hand and gave me more knowledge than I previously had.”

Wyatt Wonnacott, lead project manager of S&S Welding with his dad, Shawn, said the company was able to find the two young men via conversations with Jim Rummer, Director of Career and Technical Education for Char-Em ISD. The Wonnacotts have connections to CTE, too. Shawn started the business in 1995, upon graduating from Petoskey High School, where he also took vocational classes. Wyatt, also a PHS grad and recent graduate of Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in applied science of construction management, has been involved with the business since he was young. 

“We are looking to hire students right out of the local high school programs. I went through the welding program myself, in Pellston,” said Wyatt. “This way, we can train them the way we want and show them the right methods.”

The Mansfield Family Foundation has offered its support to the Career Tech to Careers initiative with a grant that funds gift cards to students to purchase equipment and/or clothing necessary for their new careers.

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