Students put talents to the test during SkillsUSA competition at Morrisville State College

Photos by Nicolas Murphy, public relations marketing assistant

Alicia Snow, 17, of Waterville High School and OHM BOCES, works on wiring a three-way switch, split duplex receptacle and light during the residential wiring/electrification competition.

Alicia SnowTeddy SiedsmaTeddy Siedsma, 17, of Clinton, builds a bookcase during the SkillsUSA cabinet making competition held at Morrisville State College on Feb. 15. Siedsma, who attends Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, was among approximately 600 students who participated in the annual event which features high school students from technical schools and BOCES programs throughout Central New York competing in a variety of events.

By Franci Valenzano, Public Relations Associate

(Morrisville, NY – Feb. 2013) Teddy Siedsma wasn’t too worried about the four hours ahead of him. It was the time allotted for the 17-year-old Clinton High School student to build a bookcase with a drawer, from scratch, during the Area II Regional SkillsUSA competition held Feb. 15 at Morrisville State College.

Siedsma, who attends Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, was among approximately 600 students who participated in the annual event which features high school students from technical schools and BOCES programs throughout Central New York competing in a variety of events.

More than 50 contests ranging from nurse assisting, job interviews, commercial baking, culinary and floral design, to auto collision repair, welding and residential wiring/electrification were held throughout the campus including some in the wood technology building, diesel labs and the Copper Turret student-run restaurant.

Supervising the cabinet making competition was Karl Driesel, an instructor in wood technology, who also served as a judge.

“Overall, I am looking at the quality rather than the quantity of the students’ work,” Driesel said. “I’d rather they do a good job than rush through to get it done.”

Students had the possibility of earning 100 points during Driesel’s competition in categories that included; safe work habits for the duration of contest, assembly in correct order, correct use of tools, ability to follow plans, correct dimensions, tight panel joints, and proper sanding technique.

“I’ve always been around woodworking and really have a knack for it,” said Siedsma, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his father who owns a carpentry business. He’s already donating his talents making shelves for Clinton High School, for the experience.

“I’m not too nervous,” he said just before the competition was about to begin. “Some of the wood has been pre-cut and that took a lot of the stress off. I think it is cool to go up against other kids since having a business in the real-world is very competitive anyway.”

His greatest challenge—“That will definitely be the edging and the trim on the bottom,” Siedsma said, “but I am definitely up for the challenge and really want to win this and go to states (competition).”

Jack Leva, instructional support assistant in residential construction, supervised the carpentry competition, where students were tasked with building a four-foot high wall section with a roof. He also graded/scored on a 100-point system with 10 categories. Along with checking their cuts, and making sure they were plumb and level, he was handing out points for safety.

“The main thing I am looking at today is safety,” Leva said. “Are they wearing safety glasses, are they on the right side of the ladder? Safety is so important when they are out there working in the field.”

Craig Mahon, SkillsUSA construction cluster chair from Oswego County BOCES, who has been involved with SkillsUSA for more than four years, gave the college a thumbs up for its work putting the competition together.

“Morrisville is a great place to host this,” he said. “It is centrally located for Region II and the campus is well-equipped for the competitions.”

In a residential construction lab, Paul Crovella, a former MSC professor, returned to assist with the residential electrification competition. Students in that contest first had to take a National Electrical Code quiz, then wire up three-way switches, split duplex receptacles and lights.

The importance of the competition resonated throughout the day. “It is so important for students to get out and network with other students, see the college, and get a feel for what’s out there,” Mahon said.

“Kids have a chance to focus on a skill they are interested in and they are very serious about developing themselves for their careers,” Crovella said.

That focus is clear for Alicia Snow, 17, a Waterville High School student attending OHM BOCES, who has her sights set on becoming a union electrician.

“I was always doing wiring with my dad when I was younger and became interested in it as a career,” she said.

Overall, judges were impressed with students, some whose parents came along to watch.

“I think the skills of some of the students in my (carpentry) competition were very high,” Leva said. “Whatever BOCES some of them attend, they are sure doing a great job with their kids and I am very pleased.”

Students interested in auto body also had a chance to hone their skills in a collision repair competition held in the college’s auto body technology building. First they had to take a written test followed by repairing a dent in a fender. Then they went on to repair a plastic part and identify different types of abrasives.

Colby Barnhart, 18, a student at McGraw High School who attends OCM BOCES, focused intently on his task of repairing a small dent in a fender.

“I am making sure it is clean and that students go through the correct process,” said Shelby Nodine, 19, of Baldwinsville, an automotive technology bachelor degree student, who served as one of the judges grading the collision repair competition.

Competitions were judged by Morrisville State College faculty, students, and representatives from industry and education. The college offered scholarship opportunities to some of the award winners.

The top winners in each category will advance to the state competition in April. One winner from each state competition will go on to the national competition.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations including health careers.

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