Buddy Orsak the Ag teacher, won’t admit it but he deserves a lot of the credit for the projects that are turned out of his shop.
“I truly love my job,” he said. “I have been here 29 years.”
Orsak puts in as many hours as his students. If they need to work on their projects, he is there to open the shop.
“The week of the fair we will be here late into the night,” Orsak said.
He believes in what his students do and does everything he can to make their ag project dreams come true in time for the fair.
Orsak said that this year 63 projects will come out of the shop but not all will make it to the sale.
Planning for the projects starts in October and building can start as early as November depending on the scope of the project.
Orsak has a bank account that is used to buy materials needed for the projects once the planning is complete. He keeps a log book and as a student uses material, he marks it down in the log. The student does not have to pay for their project materials until it sells at the fair sale.
“It saves time — a lot of time — and many of the companies give the school a discount on material,” Orsak said.
The projects the students construct are both metal, wood or both. If a project is both though, it can only be entered into one of the categories.
The projects are for the high school students only but “I’ve got some eighth graders that are showing a lot of potential and interest.”
When it comes to actually learning how to make the projects, Orsak helps the kids but they also help each other.
“The junior and senior level kids help to teach the younger students,” he said. “They are also my teacher as much as I am theirs.”
In the ag shop the students have access to many specialized tools such as a Plasma Cam and welding materials that most would otherwise never learn how to use.
Orsak has hopes that what the students learn can be transferred into the workforce.
Junior Kailey Harless has been working on her western bench with a cowhide seat since Christmas.
Harless chose to make her bench out of cedar wood.
“I wanted to use a wood that we didn’t really use here,” she said. “We had to order it from San Antonio.
When she got the wood though it looked nothing like the wood that currently makes up her bench.
“I had to size the boards,” she said.
With less than a week left until the bench is due to be turned in, she still has a lot of work ahead of her.
“I have to do the arms, attach the back, sand, polish and vacuum the cowhide,” Harless said.
She said the hardest part about the project is finding the time to work on it.
Harless like many of the other Ag students is involved in multiple other activities including being a part of one act play and being an assistant baseball manager.
She still manages to squeeze in 12 to 13 hours of work on her project and that will increase as the deadline draws closer.
Senior Jacob Muniz is working on a Texas Ranger themed swing for his metal project.
The intricate metal designs at the top look like a scene straight out of a old western movie. The bandit is leading the pack with the Texas Rangers following close behind on their horses. There are plants scattered throughout the scene as well.
The focus of the swing is obviously the metal scene going across the top but there are still other details on the swing that make it unique including the gun cutouts that flank the sides of the swing near the base.
Muniz said Orsak pitched the idea of a swing with intricate metal work to him and he went with it especially since he is one of only a couple of students who knows how to use the PlasmaCam and Texas themed things seem to be really in right now.
Muniz finished the frame and metal work first and is now working on the actual swing portion of the swing which will be made of wood.
He said he thinks if he works consistently everyday he will be finished with the whole project by early next week.
Muniz didn’t start his project until the middle of January but he said that was because he wanted to complete his wood project first.
He plans on selling both projects and has no qualms about not seeing his art everyday.
He wants the money for college more than he wants a giant swing and wood project.
Another senior that has an impressive metal project is James Lee.
Lee is making a circular steak griller that is set on a trailer so it can be pulled.
The grill is a five-foot circular disk with four work stations welded around it on the outside. The whole piece is set on a trailer that he also made that has a storage basket in the front for fire wood and other supply storage.
Lee has been working on the massive project since Thanksgivings and has sunk many hours into the piece.
“It was supposed to be a group project to take to some of the bigger shows but I decided to do it on my own,” he said.
Lee said he built everything on the project except the fenders, wheels and axles.
He said the hardest part of the project was building the actual trailer frame.
He still is waiting on the expanded metal to go on top of the grill,the lights need to be put on the trailer and some grinding needs to be finished.
“Hopefully I will get it done this week so I can paint it over the weekend,” he said. “We need everything done by next Tuesday.”
He plans on putting the project in the sale and hopefully getting back all the money he put into it.