Two EDSS teams head to provincial Skills contest

EDSS students Shawntanna Atkinson and Sadie Richmond get their hands dirty at the regional Skills Canada competition in Elmira on Mar.8. Finishing in second-place, the students were one of two teams from the high school competing for a spot at provincials. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

Landscaping work earns students a berth at the Ontario competition to be held in May.

Two EDSS students are preparing to show their stuff at a provincial Skills Canada competition.

After competing against schools from around the region at Premier Equipment in Elmira last week, Ally McMurray and Quinn Young placed first of all teams, and earned a spot at the provincial competition in Waterloo this May.

The students were tasked with building an interlock patio with a wall and pillar, with mulch and vegetation arranged in a predetermined pattern, all in one day and under the watchful eyes of judges and teachers.

McMurray says she was pleased to see her team’s efforts turn into a top spot placing.

“I was very excited and very proud to hear that all of the work we put into the competition had paid off,” she said.

The second-place team was also from Elmira District Secondary School, comprised of Shawntanna Atkinson and Sadie Richmond. Atkinson says while the second-place finish was rewarding, there were still a few things that she thinks the team could have improved on, and some challenges during the daylong competition.

“It was really hard to get the 16-inch bricks and the cube bricks to go together and interlock. Incorporating the pillar into the wall, that was pretty hard,” she said after the results were announced. “There were definitely some spots that we could have improved on, and we missed a few little steps that would have made it a lot better, but time kind of affected that.”

EDSS students Shawntanna Atkinson and Sadie Richmond get their hands dirty at the regional Skills Canada competition in Elmira on Mar.8. Finishing in second-place, the students were one of two teams from the high school competing for a spot at provincials.[Liz Bevan / The Observer]
EDSS students Shawntanna Atkinson and Sadie Richmond get their hands dirty at the regional Skills Canada competition in Elmira on Mar.8. Finishing in second-place, the students were one of two teams from the high school competing for a spot at provincials. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

The second-place team acts as a back-up for McMurray and Young, and even the winning team faced a few tests during the day of construction.

“Some of the challenges were coming up with a way to incorporate the square blocks into the wall, along with the fact that it was a very physically exhausting competition; to continue to lift the blocks safely when we got tired was difficult,” she said from Florida on her March Break trip.

For Atkinson, the experience was a little taste of a career she wants to get into, and she already has plans to up her game in next year’s competition.

“(Quinn Young) and I are going to do it again next year. It is something that both him and I want to get into in the future. We both want to get into the landscaping field,” she said.

This year’s provincial competition is being held close to home for the Elmira-based students, starting on May 2 at RIM Park in Waterloo, and McMurray is looking forward to seeing what other students from across the province are bringing to the table.

“I am excited to use the knowledge that we learned from the competition on a bigger stage and see what else there is to learn,” she said, adding a quick thanks to everyone involved in helping her and Young earn the first-place position. “Thank you to the teachers and the landscaping companies that helped us prepare for the competition. We wouldn’t have been able to succeed without all your time and effort.”

After provincials, comes the national competition in Moncton, New Brunswick, and those who win nationals, will head to WorldSkills, an international event with teams from different countries competing against each other. Last year, teams travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil to show their stuff.

For more information on Skills Canada and upcoming competitions, visit skillscompetencescanada.com.

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