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Tri-Valley HS Gets A Shop Teacher's Dream Saw

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Tri-Valley High School now as a table saw that you could say is every shop teacher’s dream. Within milliseconds the saw stops when it senses it’s cutting something that isn’t meant to be cut.

That's the sound Tri-Valley Ag Instructor Sarah Van Der Vliet, said makes her cringe.

“I was always waiting for that scream, or that kickback,” said Van Der Vliet. “But now that we have this table saw, I can breathe again when a student uses it. Now I know and I trust in the saw that if their finger does get close it will shut off.”

The saw's blade has a special sensor that can tell the difference between wood and flesh. The $4,500 'SawStop' was donated to school Tuesday afternoon by the Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire. This is the seventh saw they've donated through their Home Builder's Care Foundation Tools for Schools Program. Mike Sprang, who’s the chair of the foundation, said the donation is all about getting kids inspired.

“Our mission is simple,” said Sprang. “We hope by creating a safe environment, that young people will show an interest in building trades and consider a career in it.”

For junior Connor Hickman he said this new saw will surely ease his nerves.

“The last table saw we had was kind of scary,” Hickman said. “Sometimes when we started it, it smoked.”

As a third year shop student Hickman said it will definitely help his lesser experience peers feel safer. And maybe even help them enjoy class a little more.

“I think it will help a lot just with basic safety features, and teach us just how dangerous a table saw is. And also how quickly you could lose a finger or an arm,” Hickman said.

As for Van Der Vliet she said the school's budget never would have allowed her to get such a saw. So she’s grateful that now all she'll have to worry about is a little cut, instead of a chopped off finger.

“You have to have trust in your students,” Van Der Vliet said. “And now I have a second teacher in the shop that will help me out with that.”

Because the saw stops so fast the blade and its brake have to be replaced. That will cost $140, but Van Der Vliet said it’s a small price to pay for students’ safety.

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