SPASH Students Leave a Legacy for Mead Park
By Brandi Makuski
Dan Strobel’s advanced welding class was buzzing with activity on Monday.
Some of Strobel’s 16 students were finishing up trailer for ATV use, others had just completed a feed wagon for a local farmer.
Others still had just completed a new bike rack for Mead Park — literally.
“We did this one today, during this hour,” said Ashton Reinke, 18, one of two students who welded the steel rack.
While the rack still needs a special coating painted on to protect against scratching bicycles, Reinke completed the rack in less than 60 minutes with his welding partner, 18-year-old Casey Rzentkowski, with about $30 in materials. It’s the first time Strobel’s class has ever worked with the city.
“It’s pretty cool,” Rzentkowski said. “You’ll be able walk by and say, ‘Hey, our class did that.'”
Rzentkowski said he plans to take business classes at Mid-State following high school graduation, after which he plans to become a self-employed contractor. Reinke is headed for the U.S. Navy, where he’s been recruited into nuclear engineering.
Such outcomes are not uncommon for Strobel’s students, who are often subject to lectures about the importance of hands-on, hard work. The speeches have become so commonplace, students playfully refer to it was “Strobel warming”.
“These kids could walk out of here and right into a job as a fabricator making $25 an hour, no joke,” said Strobel, who’s been teaching at the school since 1994. “This is the most popular program in Tech Ed, and that’s a good thing because the kids can get their hands dirty…it’ll be with them for life.”
Strobel said his students will create three more bike racks from blueprints provided by the city, and should be done by the end of the week.
“These [students] are rock stars, they’ll sign autographs,” Strobel said of his class. “A lot of kids like to do personal projects, and that’s a lot of what this class is. But their wishes have changed over the years, and today we don’t have a lot of that farming background. So it’s not easy for kids doing these projects, it’s a different environment for them, and that’s good.”
Strobel said the steel for the project comes from Londerville Steel Enterprises in Wausau, or is donated by Stevens Point-based Steel King. It could kick off future projects for the city, he added.
“It would depend on the level of chemistry I have in each class,” Strobel said. “Getting their hands dirty, it puts them at an advantage and it’ll be a benefit to them for the next 70, 80 years of their lives. They’ll never lose that.”