Tractors come in all shapes and sizes and when your Cub Cadet breaks down on the way, it’s nice to have a friend with a bigger machine who can lend a hand. From left, up on the John Deer: Austin Doornwaard, Kaden Sharpley, and in front on the Cub Cadet, Colton Cavanagh. Tinkess Photo

CHESTERVILLE – The idea behind the concept of tradition is to do things repeatedly, year after year because they have meaning. Perhaps it is the repetition that gives them meaning, but either way, there must be interest in keeping things going, which is why drive your tractor to school day is still going strong at North Dundas District High School (NDDHS).

Jennifer Onstein is part of the Agriculture Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program at NDDHS. According to the website, the SHSM program “enables students to build a foundation of sector-focused knowledge and skills before graduating and entering apprenticeship training, college, university, or an entry-level position in the workplace. Where local circumstances allow, boards may elect to offer one or more variants of the SHSM in each sector, each with a particular area of focus. This SHSM may be designed to have a particular focus – for example, on agricultural equipment or animal and crop science. This focus is achieved through the selection of the four major credits in the bundle.”

According to Onstein, a day like this is an important part of the program.  “It’s an end of year celebration of Agriculture Specialist High Skills Major program,” said Onstein. “it’s a chance for us to gather one final time before the end of the school year and to celebrate our graduating students moving on, and it’s a time to enjoy some good food. I enjoy the love that students have for tractors and to celebrate all things about agriculture.”

Judging by the smiling faces and the way some of them were standing proudly beside their tractor.

“They are really proud to bring their equipment in and to show it off and you’ll notice that it’s all been washed, shined up, and ready for the day,” added Onstein. “It’s really important because it’s so many of our students living in such a rural area who are a part of agriculture in some way.”

There was a wide range of tractors in the parking lot at NDDHS, everything from a (relatively) small, nimble Farmall in mint condition, to several huge John Deere machines with all the bells and whistles you would find in a luxury vehicle. There were also several lawn tractors that made the journey as well. (If you have a lawn tractor, you might as well admit to occasionally daydreaming what it would be like to plant acre after acre of corn or soybeans instead of simply cutting the grass.)

Kaden Sharpley had driven one of the larger John Deere models to school (John Deere model 8235R, 310 horsepower). It belongs to the company he works for. It was, however the only one there that had a yellow and white Cub Cadet lawn tractor sitting in the bucket.

“He broke down on the side of the road, so I had to go and pick him up,” said Kaden Sharpley.

Did he run out of gas, or overheat? Neither. “Starter’s shot,” said Colton Cavanagh, “I’ve killed a couple of them.”

Sharpley says people look forward to drive your tractor to school day. “It’s a big deal,” said Sharpley. “We’re one of the last schools that does it.”

The day would also include a barbeque, just one more memory that those who are graduating will take with them when they leave.

Those who have figured it out understand that a school must be much more than just a place where you spend 10 months of the year learning things that someone else tells you need to know.  A good school must mirror the community it serves, providing learning and growth as well as education. NDDHS has figured that out, which is why it has a spirit that is immediately noticeable to anyone who walks through the front doors, and why events like drive your tractor to school day will live on.