Students face pressure during Skills contest

Students face pressure during Skills contest

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Ali Lantz from Southern Okanagan Secondary School recently won gold in the Skills Canada BC regional competition for her photography. Will Keyes, also from SOSS, took silver in carpentry. Tim Boonstra from SOSS took home bronze in automotive service. (File photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

Several high school students in the district have proven they have the skills to make it in the real world.

School District 53 recently took 50 students to compete in the regional Skills Canada BC contest at Okanagan College in Kelowna.

Career education coordinator Boyd Turnbull presented a report to the Education Committee last week on how well students performed at the regional and provincial competitions. These events see students test their trade skills against other pupils from  other districts.

“Getting kids to want to go to the Skills (event) is the most difficult part of the process,” Turnbull said. “They’re scared and don’t want to put themselves out there and are unsure of their skills.”

But that all changed after they demonstrated how good they really are.

For example, at the regionals, Cole Rezka from Osoyoos Secondary won gold in cabinet making, while Alex Brunner won silver. Carson Zittlau, also from OSS, took gold in the junior skills gravity car contest, while Kai Czabany took silver. Lukas Doggett and Tarik Cheng took bronze with their gravity cars. Isaac Piper from OSS won bronze for architectural CAD, and Cole Kress, also from OSS, won bronze in carpentry.

Ali Lantz from Southern Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS) won gold for photography, while Will Keyes, also from SOSS, took silver in carpentry. Tim Boonstra from SOSS took home bronze in automotive service.

From Similkameen Elementary Secondary School, Evan Reichl won gold in electronics, while Will Dube took gold in carpentry. Josh Bilodeau won silver in automotive service, while Dylan Leask took bronze in mechanical CAD (computer aided drafting).

Turnbull said getting the students to experience competition was good for them. In fact, there are different rivalries now, he pointed out.

After the regionals, the students competed in the provincial Skills Canada contest in April in Abbotsford.

Turnbull reported that Cole Rezka from the senior woodworking class competed in the six-hour cabinet-making contest and completed the challenge finishing in the middle of the group.  

Turnbull said Carson Zittlau’s gravity car raced to a bronze finish, while Czabany’s car finished in the middle of the pack after multiple races.

Dube from the Okanagan College Gateway program hosted at OSS competed in carpentry.

Turnbull said Dube worked hard through the grueling seven-hour competition and successfully completed his miniature house project.

Evan Reichl placed bronze in electronics.

“These results attest to the quality of skilled students we have attending OSS and demonstrate the value of the trades and technology programs that are offered at OSS,” Turnbull stated.

Turnbull presented a video that showed interviews with Rezka and Dube. Rezka said the provincial competition was a lot harder than the regionals. “The plans were harder to read,” he said.

Dube said there was a lot more pressure during the provincial contest. But it highlighted the importance of math in building things, he pointed out.

“The most difficult was keeping calm and thinking straight (instead of rushing),” he said.

Turnbull said one of the students who competed was a chronic non-attender in class, but after he focused on his project, he was in class every single day for two weeks.

For Evan Reichl, robotics and electronics have sparked a passion in him.

His mother Andrea Reichl said her son would go to the computer store and collect parts, bring them home and then build things with them.

“This is right up his alley,” she said, noting that Evan is now planning to study electrical engineering as a career goal.

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