Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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February 26, 2014

Corsicana High School shop students show mettle under pressure

Corsicana — It was a massive project, and they got a late start, but the Corsicana High School ag mechanics team still brought home honors in two recent competitions this month.

Their 28-foot divided cattle trailer won Reserve Champion in the trailer division, against 364 other entries at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo; and second in class at San Antonio, right behind a 57-foot-long semi trailer that won grand champion overall, out of about 450 projects competing there.

This year’s ag mechanic project was going to be different. It was supposed to be a 38-foot long parade float trailer but when the sponsor pulled out, their float was dead in the water. Instead, Jennings Trailer, CargoCraft and Action Sign stepped in to provide the $16,000 in materials needed to build the massive cattle trailer, explained Mark Vitters, ag mechanic teacher at Corsicana High School.

The young men are mostly juniors, but with one senior and one sophomore in their midst. The sophomore, Jace Jennings, wasn’t eligible for the advanced ag mechanic class yet, so he worked on the project on his own time, after school and on weekends.

“We got ideas from different trailers, we took what we liked from them,” explained Heath Boyd. Examples are the four slam gates and slide bars, he said.

Completing construction on the trailer took four months, but altogether the boys put in over 2,000 hours, Stratton Edmonds said. At first, they worked on it Tuesdays through Thursdays, then as competitions loomed closer, it became every spare moment everyday. The homestretch was particularly tough.

It was a tremendous project, not only it the trailer massive, but it’s got features that don’t happen without a lot of attention to detail, Vitters said. For example, installing all 320 screws in the floor, or welding the five gates and all the working parts on those.

“We all shared (the work), but if somebody excelled at something the did it,” student Mark Montfort said.

The boys volunteered last spring to work on the project, but they do wish they’d started last summer, they said Wednesday.

Jennings and Montfort said they were interested in doing this work or a variation of it in the future. Boyd said he’d probably use the skills, like welding, if he owns a farm someday.

Edmonds, who intends to attend Texas A&M for Petroleum Engineering, said all of it could come in handy in his future work, from the working knowledge of welding to the computer-assisted-drafting he did on the plans.

“(Now) we know how to do things we could go get a job,” Edmonds said.

Mason Richardson admitted he hasn’t decided on a vocation yet, but he was interested in the project because his brother had already shown the way.

“My brother did it before me and I wanted to build trailers,” he said.

Their teacher nodded at that.

“That’s what high school is all about — trying this stuff out to see what you want to do,” Vitters said.

   —————

Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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