Ponoka Comp. floats to gold at Skills Canada competition

Most people know cardboard and water don’t mix but students at Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS) have raced cardboard boats to win gold.

Josiah Pilon watches as his teammates keep their cardboard boat afloat. The team won gold at the competition.

Josiah Pilon watches as his teammates keep their cardboard boat afloat. The team won gold at the competition.

Most people know cardboard and water don’t mix but students at Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS) have raced cardboard boats to win gold.

Two PCHS teams competed at Skills Canada’s Cardboard Boat Races at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary recently and returned with gold and a bronze medals each for their efforts.

Construction teacher Dick Unruh brings students to the competition to give them experience competing and to “build camaraderie. That’s why we do it.”

The challenge is to take four 4 foot by 4 foot cardboard sheets and 25 feet of duct tape and build a boat, which must perform in a paddle race and withstand three people on board for one minute.

All must be done in one and half hours. Students are judged on the design and how well they work together.

Design work and testing is done before the competition.

“They have to build them here otherwise I don’t take them,” explained Unruh.

Students were proud of their work as they were able to beat a team of Cenovus engineers who also competed in the competition. One competitor, Andrew Jones, whose team won gold, enjoyed working with his schoolmates. “It’s kind of a team bonding thing.”

For Daniel Patrick the challenge gave him some lessons. “I learned the value of working together.”

The students were somewhat surprised to realize PCHS name preceded them and several were greeted by students from other schools who acknowledged Ponoka’s reputation as a team to beat.

Cody Krenzler from the gold medal team feels the tournament helps them realize their potential and place among the other schools. “It sets the standard for ourselves.”

Unruh enjoys how his students grow from the competition and believes it gives them a better understanding of Skill Canada’s other competitions.

Students gave much credit to Unruh for his dedication to the teams.

“We couldn’t do any of this without Mr. Unruh,” explained Jones.

With many of the competitors’ boats sinking during the float challenge Ponoka seemed to be able to handle the challenge with the gold medal winners lasting more than a minute with three in the boat. The bronze medalists competed with a fast boat during the races but sank during the float challenge after sinking after about 10 seconds.

The gold medal winners: Andrew Jones, Dustin Sejdl, Cody Krenzler and Josiah Pilon.

The bronze medal winners: Drew Pylypow, Cornelius Spek, Daniel Patrick and Colton Gervais.