The Cambrian

Coast Union freshman welds together a promising future

Coast Union freshman Melody Robertson works with a plasma cutter to cut a graphed-out shape.
Coast Union freshman Melody Robertson works with a plasma cutter to cut a graphed-out shape. Special to The Cambrian

I have always loved getting dirty, pounding things, making things by hand. Several years ago I added a small torch into my arsenal. But, what I would really love to do is learn how to weld. So did Melody Robertson, a freshman at Coast Union High School, and that is what she is doing now. Brilliantly so!

During the recent dedication ceremony at Cambria Grammar School, Melody’s handiwork was unveiled beside the new Peace Pole in the freshly planted landscape out front of the multipurpose room. For those of you who don’t know, the Peace Leaders Program at that school has a logo — an open hand with the universal spiral in its palm, which is what Melody re-created!

Having grown up here, she was one of many kids who got the agricultural bug. As a member of FFA (Future Farmers of America), she is raising her first animal, a pig.

“It’s a lot of work but really fun. I look forward to showing him at Mid-State Fair! It’s a lot of work to get there.”

When asked what direction she wants to head in life, she told me, “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to go to Cal Poly. I love science, biology, anatomy, all of the sciences!” an encouraging statement from an eager young lady.

“FFA is part of my plan for school. Colleges like this kind of hands-on background and activity.”

And active she is. While her older brother, Nik, helped spur the creation of a Welding Club on the high school campus and is its president, Melody is the club secretary — more skills under her belt.

“One of the things I really enjoy about FFA leadership is going to state conferences. You get to meet other schools, share ideas and as a delegate, I get to help make important decisions about the organization.

“One issue was whether or not to let middle school kids join FFA. Ultimately we decided not to, as they had 4-H as well as the fact that there are too few ag teachers in high school as it is to be spread even farther.”

Darcy Dobrec, their teacher/adviser at Coast Union, and ag leaders go after grants and funds from such folks as the Booster Club.

“We are so grateful for the support we get!” Melody said. “With their help, we’ll get to build a new chicken hut!”

I could use a better one of those.

It’s easy to get burned and, well, it’s really neat but, yeah, you gotta pay attention!

Melody Robertson on welding

I asked her specifically about this beautiful sculpture.

“The Welding Club allows kids to work on projects when they want, when they have time. As it turned out, I was the only one able to work on this piece.”

District maintenance guru and master welder David Bidwell said he is immeasurably proud of Melody, her attention to detail and her willingness to just jump in there and making it happen.

“She had to graph it all out on the sheet metal to enlarge the design, cut it with the plasma cutter, grind everything to make it safe and then weld the pieces together. She did a bang-up job!”

FFA includes animal husbandry, horticulture and ag mechanics, which covers life skills in plumbing, woodwork, electrical and welding, which is now getting off the ground with the help of the know-how and creative abilities of Bidwell. The school is, in fact, having to repair/refurbish the old wood shop and so is now going to convert half of it to welding.

“Anybody can join. You just have to sign a release because, well, welding can be tricky, it’s easy to get burned and, well, it’s really neat but, yeah, you gotta pay attention!” Melody shared.

I always love to see gals jump into the fire, as it were, to make things as well as make things happen. And this young lady is making positive things happen at school, her community … and her life. Keep it up, Melody!

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at, or visit her website at