Student Welders Help Re-open Belle Isle Aquarium

OSTC Students’ Welded Structure Displays Fund-raising Efforts

“Student Welding Project” – Photo by Gene Meadows of Meadows & Co. Photography

Mr. Langdon’s welding students received their mission, and they chose to accept: create a sturdy, curved, metal display board capable of handling multiple tasks – and a school of fish. They didn’t have much time; their assignment needed to be finished and in place for the grand re-opening of the Belle Isle Aquarium on September 15th. Donors’ “fish” needed to be pinned up as goodwill funds poured in – if the Aquarium was to survive, charitable contributions had to be visibly encouraged.

Levi Schulert (Rochester Adams HS), Peter Novak (Rochester HS), Michelle Vought (Oxford HS) and Evan Wieczorek (Lake Orion HS) attend Oakland Schools Technical Campus-Northeast for half of their school day. They are part of the new push for Career & Technical Education in high school, leading to student certifications, college and career. All four are enrolled in Steve Langdon’s Welding /Fabrication course as part of OSTC’s Engineering & Emerging Technologies Cluster.

“We mostly used Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) on the project,” explained Levi, before demo-ing welding technique.

Levi and Peter did much of the actual welding,” said Mr. Langdon. “Both are very experienced. As a junior, Levi placed first in the region for GTAW at a SkillsUSA competition, and went on to place third in the state.”

“All four students can be very proud of their work,” Langdon added. “Welding is integral to so many things. If you enjoy taking risks you can work on the top of a cell-phone tower; if you are creative, you can design or re-build cars. Students walk out of this cluster with hugely marketable skills.”

It will take skill (and a lot of volunteers) to bring the Albert Kahn-designed Aquarium, built in 1904, back to its glowing green-tiled self. Luckily, the Belle Isle Conservancy was able to save this architectural jewel, and public support appears to be growing. Thousands of visitors recently lined up to tour the building and view the fish – many parents remembering their own childhood trips to the ‘beautiful island’.

The student welders probably don’t remember the Aquarium closing in 2005, but they all had a hand in its recent, historic re-opening. Their metal “fish wall” can be viewed every Saturday from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM at the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit. Admission is free, but fish gotta eat: donations are welcome!


Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC)

Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE)


Belle Isle Conservancy (Website)

A Landmark Reborn: Belle Isle Aquarium reopens to thousands (Free Press)

from Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools


Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000


  1. Pearl and Jerry Kubiak · · Reply

    Nice work from these students. We had always enjoyed a visit to the Belle Isle aquarium and will again. We are proud that our Grandson had a part in this project.

  2. Thank you, Pearl and Jerry! The students do amazing things at OSTC!

  3. Paid a visit to OSTC recently and was more than impressed with the teachers, faculty, students and the facility in general. This project was a great introduction for my son to the Belle Isle Aquarium. Nothing like a hands-on project for a terrific cause to generate some interest and enthusiasm for this iconic building….oh yeah, and the fish too…. Great article! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Janet. You summed it up beautifully – and hopefully this very cook Aquarium project will raise a little public awareness of OSTC, too!

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