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EDSS students show off their Skills at regional and provincial competitions

The EDSS Skills team. Front row: Hailey Armstrong, Chantal McMurray, Abby Hanley, Savannah Cassels. Second row: coach Randy Dyck, Wes Perrin, Emmett Bartley, Ethan Ball, Tyler Peeling, Connor Redmond, Mrs. Gaudet, Saxon Musselman. Back row: Dallas Frey, Austin Martin, Brendan Brubacher, Matthew Frey, Parker Winfield, Mack Willms, Alex DeVore, Mr. Shantz. Absent: Matthew Ratthe, Kyle Deywall, Gavin Wilson, Bryce Sellars, Tyson Bolender, Dylan Hehn, Matthew Radler, Jacob Ruprecht. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

The students of EDSS proved their talents at this year’s Skills Canada competitions, medaling in a host of categories in the regionals, and claiming one gold at the provincials. Competing over the past several months in a variety of trades-inspired competitions, from plumbing to carpentry to automotive, the Elmira students demonstrated aptitude in a variety of hands-on professions.

In addition to winning a gold at the provincials in the floral design category, the team claimed seven gold medals at the regional levels, four silvers and two bronze. The competitions tasked students with a completing specific tasks in their field over a period of several hours.

“What really differentiates [this] is all of the competitions are judged by industry reps. So literally people from industry who themselves on a day-to-day business, in their livelihood, that’s their vocation,” explained Randy Dyck, the electrical, heating and air conditioning coach on the team.

Because the competitions are all geared towards real-world problems, such repairing automobile engines or wiring fixtures, the skills picked up along the way are a tremendous asset to future tradespersons.

For Emmitt Bartley, who took home the gold at the regional level competitions in mechanical CADD, the competitions were a great way to gain practical experience in his future profession.

“I’ve had quite a bit of practice just on my own with that kind of software, but there was a lot that I didn’t know,” he notes. “I just want to get into industrial design and then into automotive design, so it’s right down my alley.”

Connor Redmond, who won gold in the electrical competitions, is likewise looking to build on what he learned during his time with the Skills team to become an electrician. He’s keen to encourage others to give the team a try, pointing out benefits

“I’d say definitely go, because you get a lot of opportunities. There’s a lot of contacts to be made there. Just a lot of opportunities for careers, post-secondary,” said Redmond of the Skills Competitions.

That there is no better way to learn then simply by doing is at the core of the Skills philosophy, and the team strives to give students a real-world experience.

“A big part of our objective for the young people is experiential learning,” said Dyck. “And then the other big umbrella that we try to work towards is doing community-based projects.”

The team has lent their time and expertise to assist a number of local initiatives, such as by building picnic tables for the affordable housing charity MennoHomes, and creating outdoor planters and birdhouse kits to benefit the MCC Relief Sale.

“It’s a wonderful way for the young people to apply their skills in very practical applications,” said Dyck. “I think they found it quite gratifying to know that the types of projects they were doing assist others in the community.”

The gold medalists on the team were Parker Winfield and Matthew Ratthe in team landscaping, Emmitt Bartley in mechanical CADD, Bryce Sellars in HVAC – HTG, Connor Redmond in electrical, Ethan Ball in plumbing, Tyler Peeling in automotive and Halie Armstrong in floral design.

At the provincial level competitions held earlier this month, Armstrong went on to win the gold in her category of floral design.

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