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Teaching a higher level of tech

Hanson School District sophomore Damon Culver works with programming software on Tuesday afternoon at the school in Alexandria. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic) 1 / 2
Hanson School District industrial technology teacher Bryce Holter talks on Tuesday about the benefits of new equipment the program will get in August thanks to a $30,000 grant. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)2 / 2

ALEXANDRIA — Real world experience leads to real world success.

The motto of Bryce Holter, Hanson School District industrial technology teacher, has proven true in his decades at the helm of the Alexandria school's career and technical education (CTE) classes. And he hopes with bonus funds coming his way he can make an even larger impact on students' lives.

Holter recently applied for and received a $30,000 Perkins Reserve Grant from the South Dakota Department of Education to purchase new equipment that will bolster classes such as welding and design.

The equipment, Holter said, will likely include three welders and a CNC plasma table, which is a computerized device that can quickly cut various materials in endless shapes and sizes.

"It's really neat for students to have the opportunity to use the equipment that's used in the industry," Holter said. "There aren't a lot of subjects you can really do that in, so it's unique, and it's fun to be able to do it at a smaller school."

And although the new equipment won't be ready until the start of the 2018-19 school year, students are already excited for what the future holds.

Damon Culver, a sophomore, has two more years to hone his skills before heading to college or into the workforce. And with the tools available in his school, he's sure his future is bright.

Since beginning work with programming software, Culver has already designed and built a replica race car using printed parts from the district's 3-D printer.

"It's all just interesting and fun to do," Culver said.

And Holter knows having the new machines, which will be used alongside other high-tech equipment such as the 3-D printers and embroidery machines, will benefit more than students' education.

The professional technical field is growing all the time, he said, and the more students he can help prepare, the better.

"My goal is to get a lot of kids involved because a lot want to do this as a job in the future," Holter said. "Once they see this equipment running, that's really the key for them and then they're hooked because it's unbelievable."

Already crowded during most class periods, High School Principal Ray Slaba said Holter's work to improve the CTE classes in the district is invaluable.

And as the program grows, Slaba said he foresees interest in the district growing, too.

"Any time you can grow a program or get students excited about something, it's a good thing," Slaba said. "We're excited for this grant and for what the future holds."