Ponoka students dominate Skills Canada regionals

Ponoka students took Skills Canada Alberta competition by storm this year, earning seven medals last weekend

Ponoka students took Skills Canada Alberta competition by storm this year, earning seven medals last weekend between Ponoka Secondary Campus and St. Augustine Catholic School.

The areas of expertise were welding, culinary arts, cabinet making and carpentry. Ponoka Secondary Campus locked out all other competitors in cabinet making, earning them gold, silver and bronze.

“As far as I’m concerned Skills Canada is the best thing for students in this school, it takes them places,” said shop instructor Dietrich Unruh.

Medalists Dustin Sejdl (cabinet making, gold), Cody Krenzler (cabinet making, bronze), Josiah Pilon (carpentry, silver) and Drew Pylypow (carpentry, bronze) all agree partaking in the competition was a learning experience that will benefit future resumes.

Krenzler had been to the competition in previous years but didn’t medal. The practice he put into his work this year helped him make it to the next level.

Although he knew what to expect this year he says the experience was still tense. “Everybody’s working to beat each other.”

Pylypow had also competed the last three years, he earned bronze last year. “In the beginning it was pretty tense, but this year it wasn’t so bad.”

He’s hoping to go again next year and has a game plan: practice. “I’m going to get gold.”

Sejdl also competed last year and is proud of his win. Although this is only his third year in wood working class Sejdl says it’s something he’s been doing as long as he can remember.

Because he placed first in regionals he feels confident going into provincials. “(You) try to work fast and stay perfect at the same time.”

“I really enjoy the work and the satisfaction of doing well,” he added.

Pilon, the youngest of the secondary campus competitors also competed in the past. “It definitely makes you confident and calm.”

He says although it’s a competition the friendliness of everybody is still a draw.

Although each of the boys placed well they say there’s a pressure to perform well, not by the school’s instructors but by its legacy.

Sejdl said when they showed up everyone knew who they were because of how well past students of the school have done.

Unruh said the school has won cabinet making for the last seven years. “They’re all gunning for us.”

Unruh says working with the talented Skills Canada students is one of the main reasons he’s still teaching. “That’s where I get my main enjoyment. That’s my main satisfaction.”

However, Unruh’s not the only proud instructor this year. Dayna Wittal, culinary instructor, and Neil Christensen, welding instructor, are proud of their students.

Bronze medal winner Emma Gulka attended the culinary competition. Glenn Morrow placed first in welding and Blake Shimp won bronze.

“This is the first year we’ve had a place,” said Wittal, who’s been taking students for three years.

“It’s pretty neat to see that excitement, they were pretty excited about going,” she added.

Gulka received the recipes ahead of time and had five practice sessions with Wittal to get ready.

Each practice session lasted about five hours.

“They had to process a whole chicken and they had to french the breast. Then they had to prepare it,” said Wittal. The students also had to prepare vegetables, gnocchi, pan gravy and mushroom soup.

Unlike Ponoka Secondary Campus students this was Gulka’s first time attending Skills Canada regionals. “(It was) stressful but I was trying to have as much fun as possible while doing it.”

“I put so much effort in and it’s really great that my effort was shown,” she added.

Gulka’s mother is a chef and that’s where her passion came from.

Morrow and Shimp are also passionate about their work, which aided in the competition. “There was plenty of help given. Everybody was really friendly and they gave you as much help as you wanted,” said Morrow.

Experience also helped Morrow since he attended last year. “I was stressed out and I overthought everything,” he said of his first time at the competition.

Shimp attended for the first time this year and he was surprised at the competition level. “It was good because I never went to something like this and I thought it’d be really hard. It wasn’t actually that hard, I was over thinking it.”

Shimp will be an alternate for provincials, which take place in Edmonton May 14 to 16.

Skills Canada Alberta results:


Glenn Morrow – gold

Blake Shimp – bronze


Emma Gulka – bronze

Cabinet making:

Gold medal – Dustin Sejdl

Silver medal – Cam Farrington

Bronze medal – Cody Krenzler


Silver medal – Josiah Pilon

Bronze – Drew Pylypow