State’s gold medalist welder sculpts memorial to grandfather

Quakertown Community School District  |  Posted on

Abby Jacobes with her winning sculpture

As she watched the Pennsylvania State SkillsUSA Virtual Conference at home on YouTube, Abby Jacobes listened as the winners of the Welding Sculpture Competition were announced. When she heard third place followed by second place and her name hadn’t been called, Abby figured, “Okay, I had a good run. I finished my project. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.” As she was about to turn off the program, Abby heard her name called as state champion. Emotions got the better of her and the Quakertown Community High School and Upper Bucks County Technical School (UBCTS) student began to cry. “I was so happy,” she said. “I’m amazed that I actually made it.”

A senior in the UBCTS Welding & Fabrication Technology program, Abby’s sculpture, “Flowers for David,” was created in memory of her late grandfather, David Moser, who died in 2018. The sculpture included three delicate flowers in a vase. In addition to creating the sculpture, as part of the SkillsUSA exercise, Abby documented each step of the welding process in a detailed notebook and virtual presentation.

“We are very proud of Abygail’s accomplishments,” said Michael Herrera, the UBCTS’s assistant director. “She deserves all the honors and recognition she is receiving, which is a testament to her work ethic, determination, and skill.”

Surprisingly for one so gifted, Abby didn’t begin welding until her sophomore year. But she quickly fell in love with the process. She credits Alexandra Dadio, a former instructional facilitator at UBCTS, with being “my biggest supporter. She taught me as much as anyone. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”

Ms. Dadio recalls Abby as the only girl in the welding classroom. “She more than held her own,” she said. “There were some hard times, some frustrating times but she buckled down and kept going. I’m excited to see what she does in the future and to be able to keep cheering her on. Abby fought for this. I saw her try things that didn’t work and persevere. I’m incredibly proud of her.”

The daughter of Melanie and Anthony Jacobes has had a memorable school year. In addition to her Gold Medal as SkillUSA’s finest welder, Abby was the UBCTS’s student of the month in February, when she was welding shop foreman. She is a member of the National Technical Honors Society, and has received the Most Dedicated Student Award in her program and Road Angel’s Achievement Award. Abby also will be a 2021 Elmer Gates Enterprise Award recipient. She has displayed outstanding leadership traits, is an honors student and ranks among the top students in welding, excelling in work ethics and knowledge categories.

Abby’s hard work and dedication have set her up for success. She is a Cooperative Education student trainee employed by Klover Contracting, Inc., and will begin a fulltime job there following graduation. “I am overjoyed,” she said of her career start. “I am so glad for the opportunity and for the experience.”

Anna Marie D’Allession of Klover said Abby “is doing a tremendous job in the shop, and her skill has already surpassed others who have been veteran welders.”

Coincidently this week, the Wolf Administration encouraged students to consider pursuing a career and technical education. “Whether they choose to enter the workforce or continue their education after they graduate from high school, all students should be equipped with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “Thousands of students across Pennsylvania have found that their path to postsecondary success begins at a career and technical education center.”

Abby’s advice to students: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. You’ve got to go above and beyond to make it. Set your mind to something, have an end goal in mind, put your heart into it and never give up.”