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Wellington Skills Ontario teams take provincial gold medals

Golden builders - A team of four from Wellington Heights won gold for the team build competition. From left: Gordon Wilman, Troy Weber, Alex Gardner and Sully Fisher with the shed they built.  Submitted photo

Wellington Skills Ontario teams take provincial gold medals

by Jaime Myslik

WELLINGTON CTY. - Wellington County high school students won two gold medals at the recent Skills Ontario Competition in Toronto.

Grade 10 Centre Wellington District High School student Jade Ritter won gold for workplace safety and Wellington Heights Secondary School Grade 12 students Sully Fisher, Alex Gardner, Troy Weber and Gordon Wilman took home gold for the home and team building competition.

The provincial competition, which took place May 1 to 3 at the Toronto Congress Centre, saw over 2,300 elementary, secondary and post-secondary students compete in 68 skilled trade and technology contests.

Centre Wellington

Ritter, the returning provincial champion and national silver medalist, said this year was a different type of challenge.

“Because of Canada 150 I think they really wanted to ... show how workplace safety has evolved over the past 150 years,” Ritter said.

“So this year our work site actually consisted of a mixture of past workplaces and present workplaces - so the theme was ‘how trades build a village.’”

She continued, “We actually had to explain hazards that were in the past versus in the present and compare them and explain how they’ve evolved, how they’ve been eliminated or the differences.”

Competitors were not allowed to bring any research or information with them into the competition, relying only on their knowledge.

Another challenge that differed from last year was the addition of an illness safety assessment.

“We go around to visit different competition sites,” Ritter said. “This year we also had to focus on potential injuries or illnesses that the competitors could contract ... on their different sites.”

Jade’s coach, and mother, Jenny Ritter added, “Lots of research and preparation was involved just for that sort of new addition this year.”

During the competition on May 2, Ritter was required to complete a five-question workbook, complete a Ministry of Labour program module, perform an on-site hazard search at the masonry and carpentry competitions and complete a mock workplace assessment.

One of her advantages was she met several competitors in different trades at the national competition last year.

“I was able to talk to different competitors and kind of have them explain about what they have to do to be safe at their competition site,” Ritter said.

By winning gold at provincials Ritter is again headed for the nationals in Winnipeg from May 31 to June 3.

“I am really excited to just be able to have the opportunity to go again,” she said. “I’m also quite nervous ... both the bronze medalist and the gold medalist from last year are also coming back too so it will be intense.”

Wellington Heights

Three members of the winning Wellington Heights Secondary School team were also familiar with the provincial championships, having won silver in the home build competition last year.

But for Weber, everything was new.

“(Mr.) Verbeek ... just asked some guys who’ve done construction classes ... and just kind of got a team together,” Weber said.

Coach Jeff Verbeek said he was looking for a student who would mesh well with the three students on last year’s silver medal team.

“We have to make sure there’s a couple people that know plumbing, know electrical, are comfortable doing the calculations and figure out the different dimensions so that you don’t have all of one and none of another sort of thing,” he explained.

The team of four had two days (May 1 and 2) to build a garden shed from a blueprint given to them in the morning on the first day of competition.

Verbeek explained the team is given the structure’s dimensions, where the window should be, where the door needs to be, the size of the openings and the slope of the roof before they build it.

The competitors also installed siding, shingled the roof and ran the electrical wiring and plumbing.

When asked if they ran into any challenges Gardner said, “Not really.”

Weber added, “It’s kind of straight forward. We just took our time and made sure we only had to measure once, cut once.”

While the team did practice one Saturday to go over basic plumbing and electrical, Gardner, Weber, Fisher and Wilman all work in construction and were comfortable with the task, Weber said.

Verbeek said the skills competition pushes students to the next level.

“So rather than just being content with what they’re doing everybody’s got a competitive edge to them,” he said. “I think it’s important that they push themselves and do the best that they can and showcase their talents out there.”

The Wellington Heights team also participated in a Guinness World Record attempt on May 2 for the most people hammering a nail simultaneously.

“It’s a new record,” Verbeek said. “I think they needed a minimum of 250 and we ended up with 299, which was the official record.”

Though the Wellington Heights team won provincials, it will not going to Winnipeg with Ritter because there is no national home building competition.

May 19, 2017


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