Palliser students' skills tested

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Kate Andrews High School student Alex Brobbel  works on his gold-medal winning entry in the baking competition.

For many students Skills Canada competitions are a chance to showcase their abilities in a particular trade or technology. For others, like Shaye Pierson, it’s an opportunity for personal growth that’s just too good to pass up.

Last year the Grade 10 student from Coalhurst High School tried her hand in Fashion Technology. At the 2016 South West Regional Skills Canada Competition at Lethbridge College, she took a foray into Hairstyling, Junior class.

“I just like learning,” said Pierson during a break. “Who knows, maybe I’ll trying cooking next year, or maybe I’ll stay (in hairstyling.)

More than 20 Palliser Regional Schools’ students took part in the regional Skills Canada competition, which featured about  80 students from across the region competing in 11 different trade and technology related contests. Top finishers earned a berth in provincials in Edmonton next month,  with the June nationals in Moncton, N.B. the ultimate goal.

The event was a first for Joel Klassen, a Grade 11 student at Coaldale’s Kate Andrews High School. An older brother had competed in the Skills Canada competition and tried to convince him it was a worthwhile opportunity, but he had balked in the past.

“I thought about it a little bit, but didn’t feel like I should go because I didn’t think I was good enough,” said Klassen, after wolfing down a quick lunch.

He first learned to weld – a useful skill on the family farm – from his father about five years ago. Klassen decided to give the competition a try this year as a means to gauge his abilities and hopefully get some tips to help hone his welding skills.

Although the event gives students a chance to explore possible career options, he’s not sure welding is where his future lies.

“I want to farm,” said Klassen, with conviction. “For a backup plan, maybe. If I was to go get a trade, this would be one I’d consider.”

Pierson didn’t feel she had the sewing skills to continue on in fashion, but had a sister who taught her lots of hairstyles years ago and thought it might be a better fit.

“I do everybody’s hair. My friends come over at 5:30 in the morning and I’ll do their hair before school,” she said. “I’m not hoping to pursue a career in hairstyling, but I do want to be a teacher and I would like to teach cosmetology because it would be a fun thing to do.”

Kate Andrews’ Angie Roelofs, who has been teaching Career Technology Studies (CTS) for 33 years, said all the students should be applauded for representing their school at the event and putting forth their best effort.

One of her biggest hopes is her students come away from the competition with a better understanding of the skills and commitment necessary to make a career out of any given field. It provides them with a “real world” view, which is also the focus of Kate Andrews’ CTS program.

“We do everything to industry standard,” said Roelofs. “We teach the kids that this is what it is like in a kitchen. This is what it is like in the industry. We act professionally in the classroom and we want to be professional when we come out to competitions.”

For a school to provide its students with the skills necessary for a career in trades or technology, she said it requires support from the top down.

The school division and school administration need to provide funding to maintain the equipment necessary to keep up with changes in the industry. Then it requires an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher to bring the most out of their students.

“That’s the big deal. You really need to be passionate about it and you really want to let the kids know that you care about them and you are willing to work with them,” said Roelofs. “Be their cheerleader. Be their motivator. Be their inspiration. They will follow.”

Following is a list of Palliser students earning medals at the regional Skills Canada competition, as provided by the host Chinook Regional Foundation for Career Transitions:

BAKING – 1. Alex Brobbel, KAHS; FASHION TECHNOLOGY – 2. Christen Gross, KAHS; 3. Sian Hernandez, KAHS; GRAPHIC DESIGN – 2. Conner Lee, Coalhurst High School;  HAIRSTYLING INTERMEDIATE – 3. Caley Lengyel, KAHS; HAIR STYLING JUNIOR – 1. Amy Janzen, KAHS;  PHOTOGRAPHY – 2. Evan Weir, KAHS; 3. Michaela Horak, Coalhurst High School; TV/VIDEO PRODUCTION: 1. Sheila Entz & Simon Wipf, Coalhurst High School; 3. Nathanial Zaina & Devon Smith, Coalhurst High School.