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Gila Ridge welding students and City of Yuma unveil new ‘Welcome to Yuma’ sign

As part of National Public Works Week, the City of Yuma, in partnership with Yuma Union High School District, unveiled a new welcome sign near the northwest corner of 16th Street and the Interstate 8 eastbound off-ramp.

The “mini-beautification project” was led by the City of Yuma Clean and Beautiful Commission with design and fabrication by welding students from Gila Ridge High School under the direction of welding instructor Michael Young.

Members of the city staff, including City Administrator Greg Wilkinson, YUHSD leadership, Career & Technical Education personnel, Gila Ridge faculty and 26 Gila Ridge welding students showed off the design publicly for the first time on Thursday, May 24 as part of a brief ceremony.

“With this particular project, one of our primary interests was involving high school students, students that would create interesting things,” Clean and Beautiful Commissioner David Psolka said. “It’s been encouraging that the teachers involved in all of the projects have presented ideas to the students, and incorporated students’ ideas, like ‘what can we do and how can we do it?’ They’ve functioned more as a resource person, rather than a director. This is student built. The community can be very proud of what our kids can do.”GRHS students pose in front of welcome sign.

Gila Ridge students involved in the project include: Christopher Aguirre, Emiliano Bermudez, Wyatt Hinkle, Joseph Kappeli, Steven Workman, Andrew Busby, Zach Birmingham, Matt Wiedenfeld, Jaden Shay, Joel Zazueta Zambrano, Adrian Mitchell, Dreshawn Riven, Tanner Hudson, Joseph Zamora, Gabriel Taddei, Kennedy Schutte, Kaleb Webb, Chase Landis, Kyle Everett, Austin Cannon, Israel Gonzalez, William McNeil, Alonso Sanchez, Jakob Leslie, Reid Breadwell and Noah Williams.

The project took about five months to complete and is an homage to the steamboats that traverse the Colorado River, featuring intricacies such as silhouetted travelers in some of the boat’s windows, a paddlewheel on the boat’s stern, and a frog and crane sitting next to the boat.  

“It’s to give back to the community and beautify Yuma,” GRHS senior Kennedy Schutte said. “But it’s also it’s kind of cool because we live right next to the Colorado River. It flows right through Yuma and everything. It’s a big part of Yuma life.”

The City provided the landscaping materials. The students completed all of the welding, mostly from scrap metal.  

The project was the third of its kind between YUHSD and the City of Yuma. In 2016, San Luis High School welders built the welcome sign across from Yuma International Airport and in 2017, Kofa High School welders completed the welcome sign on the corner of Avenue B and 32nd Street.

Eric Patten