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THS ag mechanics students, teacher win big at state fair
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A Turlock High agriculture teacher Chad Russell won the John Thurman Award at the California State Fair this year — all due to his students’ success. All of his ag students won first place at the fair, which gave their instructor the most points at the end to win his own prize. Russell won a plaque and $150.

“I have been fortunate enough to win this award,” Russell said.  “My students are extremely competitive and very serious when it comes to compete.  The fact that I have won this award directly reflects the quality of work that my students have done.”

One of his students, Blake Peterson won Best of Show, Avery Welding Award, and Outstanding Exhibitor.  Another agriculture mechanics student, Peter DiGrazia, won Best of Division and the Airgas Welding Award.

All 15 agriculture mechanics students spent their summer at the Turlock High School ag shop working on their projects. They got all of their supplies from local businesses.

“Businesses in our area have been a great asset to us because they understand that this is a learning process for the students and are very helpful and supportive,” Russell said.

During the school year, Russell teaches his students how to draw and interpret plans, make materials and cut lists, order materials, and design and fabricate using various welding and cutting methods.  They are also taught how to manage their time wisely with other commitments.  The 15 students also had a big showing at the Stanislaus County Fair this year.

“My students learn effective communication skills by being a part of this project,” added Russell.  “When students order materials they have to call local businesses and communicate with others in order to have a successful project.”

Turlock High School is no stranger to success in ag mechanics, as it has beat out every school throughout the Valley for the last five years.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do.  None of these projects would have taken place without the community and administration support.  It takes a tremendous amount of time to run a full scale shop.  Local businesses give our students discounts when they purchase items and even help them with any technical question they may have.  I cannot emphasize the gratitude I have for our community,” said Russell.