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It was the last question of the game.

Sergeant Matt Williams of the National Guard was leading a group of 12 David City High School students in a game of military jeopardy. The question: How many buttons were on the old battle dress uniform?

The students conversed, but Senior Joise Cudaback had an answer: 31.

“I don’t know, it just came to me at the last second,” 17-year-old Cudaback, of David City, said about her guess.

Astonishingly, that turned out to be correct. The team started cheering and high-fiving one another.

“They actually won,” Williams said. “They’re a smart group of kids.”

It was just one of the many activities part of this year’s National Manufacturing Day. Students from David City and East Butler High School got the chance on Thursday, Oct. 18, to spend the day touring local companies in Platte County.

Juli Thelen, public relations director for Nebraska Advanced Manufacturing Coalition, said the goal of the tours was to encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing.

“Our goal is to show these students what careers are (available) in manufacturing,” Thelen said. “We’re trying to fill the skills gap. We’re hoping as students learn what’s going on in the community and see the jobs that are out there, that they might choose to go to college for those kinds of STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) careers.”

Each of the 10 participating high schools was allowed to bring 12 students for the tours. Each group visited three of 14 different businesses throughout the day. East Butler High School students visited Superior Industries, B-D Construction and the City of Columbus’ Wastewater Treatment Plant. David City High School students got to see B-D Construction, Columbus Hydraulics and the National Guard base in Columbus.

At the base, the David City High School students were shown tactical vehicles, weapons systems, night vision goggles and meal rations. James Escamilla, 16, of David City, a sophomore at David City High School, said he enjoyed learning about the National Guard because he’s considering a military career.

“To be honest, I’ve never really been on something like this,” Escamilla said about the tour. “I really liked it.”

Justin Sousek of Malmo, 17, a junior at East Butler, said he enjoyed getting out for school for a day and taking advantage of the hands-on learning opportunity. His favorite part of the day was touring Superior Industries.

“I liked their assembly line,” Sousek said. “That was pretty interesting because they’re looking for welders and people to put all of their machinery together.”

Throughout the day, the different student groups could earn points for completing various challenges. The David City High School team ended up winning third place and went home with medals.

“I’m very happy, it’s all thanks to my team. They all chipped in throughout the day,” Cudaback said about the win. “It was mostly just me doing the recording, but they did all the embarrassing things to get us those points.”

Tanner Thiem, an industrial technology teacher at David City High School, served as the group's supervisor. He said the tours were a great learning experience for the students.

“It was good for the kids to see the different businesses and job opportunities,” Thiem said. “And I think they learned a lot, and maybe even more than what they would have learned in a normal day of school.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News Review.

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