Strom Thurmond welding students create 13-foot tall attraction

Pictured STCTC student Tristen Puckett, STCTC Welding Instructor Bill Cheatham, STCTC student...
Pictured STCTC student Tristen Puckett, STCTC Welding Instructor Bill Cheatham, STCTC student Sara Wates, Old McDonald Fish Camp Owner Jay Bass and STCTC students Malik Williams, Alex Prado, Amari Rogers, Tyler Clark, Jesus Gonzalez, C.J. Hensley, and Ben Blythe.(Contributed)
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 12:16 PM EST
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EDGEFIELD, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A group of welding students at Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center created a 13-foot tall, aluminum water wheel attraction for a local restaurant.

The attraction is for the popular local eater, Old McDonald Fish Camp. It’s 13 feet tall and made out of over 700 pounds of aluminum. Students started working on the project in August. They delivered the finished project just over a week ago.

Welding teacher Bill Cheatham has provided his students with challenges that advance both their knowledge and abilities. His most recent large-scale project asked them to take their skills to even greater heights.

“We noticed the old one they had up there was worn down and rotten, so I suggested to the Old McDonald Fish Camp owner Jay Bass about letting my students build a new water wheel and that’s what we did. we took it from there,” Cheatham said.

“When they put their minds to it, it surprises you what they can do,” Cheatham added. “They did it and I’m proud of them.”

Bass, a Strom Thurmond High School alumnus, beamed with pride while standing next to the water wheel.

“It was better than I could have imagined,” Bass said of his initial thoughts when he first saw the completed water wheel that Sunday. “They did an awesome job and it’s been a neat experience working with Bill and the students. They did all the work. I told them the dimensions and then I left them alone.”

Welding student Sara Wates, who had the idea of using a wooden barrel to flow water down onto the water wheel, said the sheer size of the frame, a 12-foot octagon, was the most challenging part of the process.

“Just because of how big it is it was hard getting things on top of the water wheel,” Sara stated. “It was fun to see it all come together.”

Student Ben Blythe took a job at Old McDonald Fish Camp a few weeks before the project began. His primary duty is preparing the restaurant’s signature hush puppies.

“I thought it was kind of funny that we started working on something that would go out here as soon as I started working here,” commented Ben. “The hush puppies taste great, but the water wheel is pretty cool too.”

“The whole process has been awesome,” stated Bass. “I’m very proud of it and I’ve been blown away. Years from now these students can go across the bridge and tell their kids they built that water wheel. I’m proud that it came from the Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center.”