Skills Canada competition an 'historic' event at Vanier

G.P. Vanier Secondary School made history Wednesday as it teemed with skilled youth during the regional Skills Canada competition.

Not only was this year the first that the competition was hosted at Vanier, the competition was the most widespread in terms of events offered compared to all 12 regions in the province, according to organizer Randy Grey.

"Our region offered every event that Skills has and that's the only region that's ever done that in history so it was a very, very big event and it was really, really widespread," Grey explained.

Some competition areas were: automotive service, cabinetmaking, culinary arts, electronics, TV/video production, baking and hairdressing.

Students from Port Alberni, Parksville/Qualicum, Campbell River and all three secondary schools in the Comox Valley came to compete for the chance to move onto the provincial competition in Abbotsford on April 18.

Comox Valley students will have a strong showing at the provincials as they placed first many of the categories including: computer animation, automotive service, graphic design, electronics, digital art, junior sumo robot, welding, baking, culinary arts and hairdressing.

Grade 12 Highland student Danielle Michaud tied for first in the hairdressing competition with her classmate Alex Howell. Both students are enrolled in the Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE IT) program.

Michaud said she chose the ACE IT program because it allows her to attend Del Rio Academy this year and get a jump start on her career.

"It was such a great opportunity I couldn't pass it up, and the school district helps you out a little bit with the tuition," said Michaud. "And if you can graduate from school and college at the same time, why not?"

During the competition, Michaud and Howell cut, coloured and created updos on mannequin heads while groups of students watched them in the Vanier's main foyer.

The Skills Canada competition is normally hosted at the Campbell River campus of North Island College, so this year presented new challenges because the event was hosted in a fully operational high school, according to Grey.

Seven classrooms were displaced during the competition, which ran for much of the school day, but the event involved many students in the school besides competitors and things went smoothly, Grey said.

"The day went really well; we had leadership classes from the school giving tours (to younger Vanier students) and they were just fantastic, going around and picking up kids and keeping organization," he explained.

The Record caught up Grade 10 student Vici Renwall while she was touring the culinary arts part of the competition. Although she plans to attend law school, she could appreciate the chance to see all of the different skills in action.

"I want to be a lawyer so there's not really anything for me but if you're into foods or anything like carpentry, that's pretty cool," said Renwall.

Grey noted the amount of work everyone put into the event was huge — especially the extra hours teachers involved in each of the competition areas dedicated — and he considered the event a success.

"It was really successful," Grey said. "We had about 160 people in the closing ceremony so that to me is a true measure that people really enjoyed it."



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