Ponoka Composite High Schools students have once again returned from the Skills Canada provincials and nationals competitions with medals.
Both provincials and nationals were hosted at the Edmonton Expo Centre; May 10 and 11 for the former and May 13 to 16 for the latter. Shop teacher Dick Unruh said it was a busy week for him and his students but having the competitions back-to-back made it so everyone was on the same playing field.
“It was really tough,” he said of the competition.
Cameron Farrington, Grade 11, won gold at provincials for his work in wood joinery. Competitors were not allowed to use any material other than wood.
“”You’re given a plan with measurements to see how well you can build the project according to plan.” said Farrington.
Normally a provincials gold medal winner would advance to the national competition but not all provinces have students competing in wood joinery.
“It’s brand new,” said Unruh.
Josiah Pilon, a Grade 9 student who won a silver at provincials but did not place for nationals, said it was a worth the experience.
“It’s disappointing not to get gold, but I’m happy with silver,” said Pilon.
Judges took special interest in Pilon as his skills were of high calibre for someone so young.
“Judges told me he was the talk of the competition,” Unruh stated proudly.
Another student, Helena Winter, Grade 11, competed in the job skills program.
Competitors were presented a skill as a teacher and were marked on how interesting their class was as well as the skill they applied to the craft.
She taught painting to judges and felt fairly relaxed throughout. “I was a little nervous at first, but the orientation made me more relaxed.”
Winter placed fourth in the provincial level. Unruh said she needed to be less mechanical. Despite not receiving a medal she plans to compete next year in a different category. Jenna Sidwell placed second for her skills in grafting on trees, and Jonathan van de Pol earned a bronze in cabinet making.
Keane Morrow, who graduated last year, but returned to upgrade some courses, earned himself the gold medal in cabinet making. Unruh said he deserved the award.
“He was the only student who finished,” he explained.
Not only is nationals a chance to compete against other provinces, but also industry leaders attend to prospect employees. Jobs will sometimes be offered on the spot, Unruh stated. It is also another thing to add to the resume. “It’s the best thing you can put on there.”
Unruh’s goal is for his students to do well. “I want all these guys to be successful, and they will be.”
Thirteen students from Ponoka Composite High School competed in Skills Canada provincials.
By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye