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Chilliwack welding students take top spot in national contest with Grizzly bear barbecue

A G.W. Graham group won $15,000 through the CWB Welding Foundation’s Forged by Youth competition
The G.W. Graham Grizzly bear barbecue that won top prize in the CWB Welding Foundation’s Forged by Youth competition. (G.W. Graham photo)

A team of G.W. Graham Secondary welding students have won $15,000 for their school through the CWB Welding Foundation’s Forged by Youth competition.

Welding instructor Brad Bootsma delivered the news that their project, a life-sized Grizzly bear barbecue, captured top spot. The students completed the project just before the end of the school year and were confident they were going to win. Last year’s victor was a working go-kart that was built by a team of 200. The G.W. Graham group numbered closer to 20 and the project was far more ambitious.

But you don’t know until you know.

“Winning was absolutely surreal,” Bootsma said, calling it an incredible achievement. “It’s hard to put into words just how excited and proud we all felt. This journey started months ago with a simple idea and a lot of determination. Their dedication, creativity, and determination have undoubtedly paid off.”

RELATED: G.W. Graham students proudly unveil Grizzly bear barbecue

RELATED: Welding students at Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Secondary target $15,000 prize

The project was student-led, planned an executed by the group with Bootsma offering guidance where required. It took about 5,000 hours to complete.

The students first welded together the skeleton of the 4000-pound bear, then covered it with sheet metal. They worked painstakingly to get the shape just right, and covered it with thousands of pieces of rusted metal to simulate the fur.

The back lifts up to reveal the barbecue. It has eight burners, and a neat feature of the BBQ is having smoke vent out of the bear’s nose.

Bootsma said the prize money will go towards acquiring new shop equipment and tools.

”These investments will enhance the learning experience, provide students with access to state-of-the-art resources, and ensure they are well-prepared for the demands of the industry,” he said.

The Grizzly bear is the G.W. Graham mascot, and the BBQ will stick around the school to be used at events like the annual Terry Fox Run.

The full list of students contributing to the project included Laurynn Davidson, Kallum Vandyk, Maria Barkey, Nolan Barkman, Wyatt Cavanagh, Marcus Dalton, Jared Holosney, Nathan MacNeil, Shea Pankiw, Owen Sheets, Reuben Vanpelt, Hannah Joy Nirwranski, Liam Harrison, Isaac Rychcowski, William Vernon, Cameron McCall, Hayden Pugsley, Tyler Bergin, Colby McLellan and Brandon Smith.

A 4000 pound Grizzly bear barbecue created by G.W. Graham metal shop students has won their school a $15,000 grant. (submitted photo)
The Grizzly bear built by G.W. Graham metal shop students is also a barbecue. (submitted photo)

Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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