Monday, April 24, 2023
NNDSB students putting their skills to the test at provincial competition
Thirteen Parry Sound High School (PSHS) skilled trades students are on their way to the province-wide Skills Ontario competition championships in Toronto on May 1.
With 27 other students from various school boards all vying for spots in the Skills Ontario championship the PSHS team faced stiff competition at the qualifying competition on April 1st at Canadore College in North Bay.
Parry Sound students Brad Spooner, Ola Tarko, Reese Norrie and Lily Stiles took home medals and qualified for the next round of competition in their respective disciplines of construction, television and video production and culinary arts. They will be joined by nine other PSHS students who are also advancing to the Skills championship.
PSHS culinary arts teacher and skilled trades champion Blair Cousins said the students have been preparing for the competition since September and doubled their efforts in January when the competition scope documents were released by Skills Ontario.
“Many students practice several times a week,” Cousins said. “The construction students studied blueprints and developed our own measurements to build a mini woodshed model based on the isometric drawing in the scope.”
PSHS teacher Jordan Buckland has been working with bronze medalist Bradley Spooner and fellow student Jonah Smith, who finished just out of the medals, for several years. Buckland said the students were selected because of their outstanding work ethic, reliability, and their overall desire to further their learning in the trade.
Both Brad and Jonah had comfort in seeing other competitors struggle with the same areas they were learning, and it showed them that they were competitive with other construction students.
Students in TV video production were tasked with creating a 30-second public service announcement pertaining to climate change targeted to a preteen audience. PSHS students Ola and Reese used humour to encourage people not to litter because littering causes many animals to die each year. The next step at the provincial championships is to create a 90-105-second video which will include the use of an object in an unconventional way.
Culinary Gold Medal winner Lily Stiles has been practicing with a focus on this year’s Skills Ontario contest. She completed precise knife cuts, a side salad and hamburger with pickled jalapenos and freshly made tarragon mayonnaise with a brownie dessert.
Teacher Nicky Dusome feels the Skills Ontario competition is important because it allows students to compete in a highly specialized market and gives insight into those markets. It also is a great item to have on college applications.
In addition to the PSHS competitors, several other NNDSB schools are sending students and staff to the Skills Ontario competition to observe and take part in conferences as part of the board’s ongoing efforts to encourage interest in the skilled trades.
Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) Coordinator and Dual Credit Teacher Roy Desjardins said Northern Secondary School, Almaguin Highlands Secondary School and PSHS are all sending students and educators on day trips to the competition.
Chippewa Secondary School and F.J. McElligott Secondary School will be sending delegations to the Skills Ontario Young Women’s Conference. The conference will feature speakers and exhibitor booths hosted by female skilled tradespersons/apprentices, partners of Skills Ontario, colleges, organizations and other skilled trade and technology-related industries.
“The Young Women’s Conference is tailored to those who are interested in having more understanding of the skilled trades. It also allows them to network and have conversations with mentors like themselves,” Desjardins said. “Many young women may want to be involved in the skilled trades but don’t see themselves represented in those roles. Engaging with people like themselves who have found success in these fields allows them to have the perspective that it’s achievable.”
The Skills Ontario competition is “a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase their skills, to meet other young people with similar interests, to champion for themselves and be ambassadors of their school and our board,” Desjardins said. “Whether a student wins or not, they deserve to be celebrated.”