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Triton class requires students to rebuild tractors

By Melissa Mussman

The Post-Buleltin

DODGE CENTER, Minn. — Newly restored tractors lined the Triton High School parking lot on a Friday while students who had worked on them proudly revved their engines in the sun.

"Students get excited about their work, and they are proud of the end result," said Nathan Vrieze, agriculture instructor at Triton. "In my eyes, that is the most important thing."

Vrieze and Paul Kobernutz, professor at Ridgewater College, developed the Technical Preparation class. The final project requires students to rebuild three tractors from head to toe.

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The classwork focuses on hydraulics and electrical portions of mechanics, and was designed to follow college-level curriculums.

"Not only do I want to focus on what my students will need to know for their four years in high school, but I also want to strive to prepare them for life after high school," said Vrieze. "I try to look at what is best for my students, what is going to help them succeed."

Students must get approval from Vrieze and pass a test based on technical theory, electrical theory, and multi-cylinder engines in order to get a spot in the class.

For the tractor project, students are split into three groups of five.

"It’s not necessarily a training mechanism, but rather a tool to discover what they want to do and obtain some experience no matter what they decide to do after high school," Vrieze said.

Grant Eipers, a senior in Vrieze’s Technical Preparation class, said: "Learning about tractors and the hands-on experience has been the best part of this class. I plan on attending South Central College for mechanics, so this class has been helpful."

Eipers worked on a Minneapolis Moline for his senior project and spent around 70 hours restoring it.

Curtis Musolf, a senior in Vrieze’s class, has restored four tractors, including one was with his dad at home. Musolf plans on joining the Army National Guard to work in diesel mechanics.

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"It is great to get the practice in on working with mechanics and establishing a routine of how to do things," said Musolf. "It’s a lot of work and a lot of time, but in the end it’s well worth it."

This is the second year the agriculture department has had the seniors and students display their work. Vrieze hopes it will become a tradition at Triton even after he starts teaching at Martin County West in Trimont. He also hopes to start the program in Trimont.

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