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Goliad High School students receive first-hand knowledge in agriculture mechanics


Nov. 29, 2010 at 5:29 a.m.
Updated Nov. 30, 2010 at 5:30 a.m.

Cody Autry, left, Allan Ferguson, instructor Trey Psencik and Aaron Groll examine the inner workings of a 1969 Dodge Charger used in the 2005 movie, "The Dukes of Hazzard." A Goliad resident donated the car to Goliad High School's agriculture mechanics class so students could repair and restore the vehicle. Once repairs are complete, the car will go back to its owner.

One look around the Goliad High School garage reveals a melange of projects. Disassembled motors, stalled vehicles and an array of tools all fill the room.

And, although the projects might be in various states of completion, that's the point. It's up to the students to get them up and running.

The garage and its adjoining classroom play home to the high school's agriculture mechanics program. Now, in its third year, the program is a chance to give students hands-on experience for the repair world, said Trey Psencik, who teaches the course.

"The students decide what they want to focus on," he said, explaining he teaches courses in everything from welding to building construction and power machinery. "We always have cool stuff coming through here."

Students undertook numerous assignments during the fall semester, from jeeps to tractors and more. An orange 1969 Dodge Charger RT 440 with Hollywood ties, however, might be the most recognizable of the bunch.

It was featured in the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV series, and the 2005 movie.

The car was donated by a Goliad oilfield equipment owner, Psencik said. Students will repair and restore the vehicle and then return it to its owner.

"The owner supplies the parts and we supply the labor," he said. "That way, the students learn a skill and the person who sponsors the project gets some work done."

Psencik oversees the students' work.

Cody Autry, a senior taking the class, spent much of his time on a 1949 Ford 8N tractor for a Goliad resident. The company only made 500 such tractors, he said, and the flathead V8 engine they put in gave it more power than it would have originally seen.

The boost upgrades the tractor from a 20 horsepower machine to 120, Psencik added.

"Bonnie and Clyde used engines like this to outrun the cops," Autry said, with a glance at the charcoal gray and red motor.

Nathan Smith, a junior at the school, busied himself on another tractor, installing a Sherman transmission. The upgrade split the gears into low and high, converting it from a three-speed machine to six-speed, Psencik said.

"It's a unique tractor," he said. "We've had a lot of really interesting projects we've worked on this year."

The semester might soon be winding down for the instructor and his students, but the program continues to expand, Psencik said. About 50 students are currently enrolled.

"Every year, there's more of them and more people wanting projects," he said. "It's growing with a frenzy. It's coming along."



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