Last Friday, members of the A.C. Jones High School welding team won the Mike Mylnar Memorial Nueces County Junior Livestock Show American Welding Society Welding Contest held in Robstown. Again.
Normally, this development would elicit a collective yawn from those who regularly follow the accomplishments of the JHS welders.
However, just a week ago, on the front page of this newspaper, his students, the high school and community paid tribute to Mike Mylnar, the beloved teacher, who died Jan. 2 at age 50 as a result of a stroke.
As Jaime Rodriguez, JHS principal, said, “He (Mylnar) had a passion for kids as well as a passion for the skill of welding.
“He built the A.C. Jones welding program to be one of the best in the state. He has taken dozens of students to both state and national welding competitions.
“Welding programs across the state know that when students come to compete for JHS, they have been taught well.”
Indeed, Mylnar was a great guy and rare instructor. He truly cared about his students. He had said, “I am trying to be the teacher I wish I had. I am trying to tell students the things I know they need to know in life.”
His son Paul had noted that Mike always had wanted to leave behind a legacy. And as far as achieving that, there is no doubt.
Look at the thousand former students who had enrolled in his classes – many of them acquiring a work ethic and skills that would carry them far in South Texas careers with the expanding Eagle Ford Shale operations and manufacturing facilities; others wanting to learn a valuable lifetime hobby.
Additionally, JHS welders had taken top honors at the Nueces County welding contest for the first eight years of its existence. Because of his leadership and forcing other schools to elevate their programs, the competition has now been named in Mylnar’s memory.
Congratulations to Bryan Webb, Maverick Quintana and Andres Gaitan, first place pipe welding; and Victoria Elizalde and Eric Dehnert, third place plate welding. They and their fellow JHS welding students, instructor Dick Beasley, as well as Katheryn and the Mylnar family, should be commended for carrying on Mike’s dreams and plans for the program’s future.
– Chip Latcham