Former Marshall County student building career on grandfather's welding tools


Brennan Larimer transferred from Marshall County High School to Paducah Tilghman High School in the school year after the horrific shooting at his former school. Now, the high school senior is settling in to a potential career in welding.

The second-year welding student at the Paducah Area Technical Center is this week's Associated General Contractors of Western Kentucky Technical Center Student of the Week.

Larimer has taken several classes in the area technical centers at Marshall County and Paducah Tilghman high schools.

"My freshman year, I was in construction, actually, at Marshall County," he said. "My sophomore year, they gave me a choice of construction or welding, so I chose welding to see if I liked that instead.

"After (the shooting) happened, I chose welding again for my junior year, and that's when I really started liking it and practicing a lot more."

Larimer transferred to Paducah Tilghman in October of his junior year. Part of the reason to go there was the school's welding program.

Larimer's welding instructor, Brandon Wilber, said that his student is a class leader through his actions.

"The way he works and the way he goes about it, he's about the best welder I have in my afternoon class," he said.

Larimer won the SkillsUSA regional title in welding sculpture last year, advancing to the state competition.

"I think, in a way, a lot of it was a coping skill to help him deal with the shooting that happened at Marshall," Wilber said. "It was a way to let out some of the (emotion) that he was going through."

The welding sculpture was a broken heart with locks and chains around it.

"It was interesting," Larimer said. "I've never done something like that before."

Larimer said he enjoys welding because he enjoys working with his hands.

"I like how, the more you do it, the better you get at it," he said.

Larimer has earned 2F state welding certification and certification in shielded metal arc welding.

Wilber said that Larimer brought the welder used by his late grandfather, Buford Coursey, to the school shop.

"We're going through it right now, trying to repair it so he can have something at home to weld with," Wilber said.

Coursey was a welder in World War II, working on ships.

"I went to his garage the other day, and he has all his inventions and his welding gear there," Larimer said. "He still had all his sticks and acetylene tanks and oxygen tanks. It was pretty neat.

"I found his welder in the back, in the corner. It wouldn't start, so I brought it in here (the shop) to see if we could get it to start."

Larimer said he doesn't remember much about his grandfather. Working with his equipment can be a tie to his family's past and his own future.

Larimer said he is considering taking classes at West Kentucky Community and Technical College to earn more certifications with an eye toward starting a career in welding.

Larimer is the son of Brett and Rachelle Larimer of Marshall County near Draffenville.

The Paducah Area Technical Center is on the campus of Paducah Tilghman High School and services students from Paducah Tilghman, McCracken County, St. Mary, Graves County and Livingston Central high schools. Next year, it will be replaced by the Paducah Innovation Hub, also located on the PTHS campus.

A story featuring the AGC of Western Kentucky Technical Center Student of the Week will run in The Paducah Sun each Friday through March 27 with recipients chosen by instructors and administrators at the seven area technical centers that serve students in the state's 13 westernmost counties.

In addition to the Paducah Area Technical Center, this year's 29 AGC of Western Kentucky Technical Center Students of the Week are chosen from the Ballard County Career and Technical Center, Caldwell Regional Career Center, Four Rivers Career Academy in Fulton County, Marshall County Technical Center, Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center and the Murray-Calloway County Area Technology Center.

At the area technical centers, students are learning skills in areas such as welding, machine tool technology, plumbing, carpentry, automotive technology, electricity and industrial maintenance that will help them join the workforce upon graduation and help fill the need for skilled workers in the area.

A banquet will be at 6 p.m. April 23 at Marshall County High School to honor the Technical Center Students of the Week and to name technical center and overall Students of the Year.