Looking at the 12 newest tables for the Lexington County Detention Center, one would think they were the work of professional welders. However, they’re the product of a two-year project by Lexington Technology Center students, led by senior Marshall Hibbs.
"First, all the metal got dropped off. Then I had to make a cut list of what we needed to cut on the band saw, then it was a good two weeks of cutting on the band saw," Hibbs said "We cut all the metal that we were going to use to build the tables, then we built all the legs for the tables, then we built all the tabletops, then the benches. Once we had all that assembled, we started actually building the tables and putting them together."
Last year, Hibbs and 26 others began the design phase, making a prototype that needed to be sturdy and large enough to fit six people. Welding Instructor Ashley Black said he watched the students grow as they worked to give back to their community.
"If I didn’t have a class of students as strong as the ones now, this would have never happened," Black said. "These kids here are probably a once-in-a-career class."
Black and Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon are former LTC classmates. Their partnership on this project not only gave the students a real work assignment, but it saved taxpayer money.
"We needed these tables. We had them in the budget and we were going to have to buy them," Koon said. "We came up with the idea to team with the welding class and it saved the citizens of the county approximately $20 thousand by doing this project, so it’s a win-win for us."
Watching the completed product is nice, but Black said the true reward is watching his students build the foundation for a career.
“They come in as a 10th-grader knowing nothing, and now I feel like they’re ready to go face the world.”