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Learning a life trade

Students learn mechanical skills

Staff writer

Peabody-Burns High School junior Nick Morgan is no newcomer to repairing equipment, a skill he learned working alongside his father. Nonetheless, the school’s agricultural mechanics program has helped him hone his skills.

“I live on a farm, and we use a lot of this in the summertime,” he said. “I like to weld and solve problems.”

He said he mostly learned by watching his father, but he has improved because of the hands-on work at school. He also has learned to operate more advanced machinery, including a lathe.

For any student who wants to go into a mechanical profession, the program is an advantage, district aide Matt Schroeder said. Students who take both agricultural mechanics and advanced agricultural mechanics leave the program with all of the basic skills needed to succeed in mechanical professions, he said.

The classes also have academic benefits, such as reinforcing math skills, teacher Glenn Bechtel said. A student who doesn’t care about math can learn the Pythagorean theorem quicker when he puts it to practical use.

Much of the program involves auto mechanics. In the three years since the classes began, students have built two 1932 Ford Roadsters and a 1974 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Schroeder said.

“I feel that kids need hands-on experience,” Schroeder said. “As a country, I feel we are losing a lot of this talent.”

The program was created because the school board wanted to expand vocational programs at the school, Superintendent Rex Watson said. They also wanted something different from construction at Marion and welding at Hillsboro.

Participation also gives students something to take pride in, Watson said. Hot Rod Club has shown vehicles built in the class at regional car shows, with members explaining what was done.

Students can use the skills they develop in the program to get good-paying jobs in the area without a college degree, Watson said. Students who complete both years of the program are well-equipped to work in manufacturing, he said.

Last modified Oct. 14, 2010

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