Students from Brooks Secondary School and Vancouver Island University’s Powell River campus dual-credit program brought home six medals from the Skills Canada Regional Championships held on Friday, March 3, in Nanaimo.
A total of 15 local students travelled to the event at the university’s Vancouver Island campus and competed in a number of trades categories. Four students represented Brooks in automotive, four in carpentry, one in culinary arts, two in hairdressing and four more in welding.
Successes at the regionals can be attributed to two things, said Brooks trades counsellor Jim Palm.
“Number one: great instructors,” said Palm, “and number two: our dual-credit programs, which are some of the best in the province that have been refined over the last 10 years.”
The dual-credit program is for students still of school age who are attending Brooks, able to apply to a university trades program or academic program, and have a student card from both institutions, said Palm.
Instructors include Ron Depape, automotive, Gary Huculak, carpentry, Chris Gray, culinary arts, Leah Babcock, hairstyling, and Wes Irwin, welding.
Automotive student Christian Pedersen and carpentry student Kyle Wyse each won gold in their respective skill areas.
“I’ve always loved cars,” said Pedersen. “I’m not really planning to be a mechanic as of now. I can certainly see where it can go. I might want to continue that down the line, but it’s a huge hobby of mine. I love working on cars; it’s my favourite thing to do.”
Pedersen said he started working on cars with his dad at an early age. He found the skills competition, which was focused on auto electronics and computerization, easier than he expected, he said.
“I was a bit disappointed because we didn’t have to do anything to do with working on cars, which is a bit of a letdown,” he said. “I hope at the provincials we’ll be able to do that.”
Bronze in automotive went to Pedersen’s classmate Grace Mavin, who went into automotive mechanics after getting her first truck.
“I had to fix a few things and really enjoyed working on it,” said Mavin.
May is the automotive program’s top academic student. She was new to an automotive shop when she started at the beginning of the year, according to Depape.
“She’s embraced everything,” said Depape. “She’s worked her best to complete all of the tasks we’ve had to do in this program and she tries to do her best every single time.”
Other medalists from Brooks were Brendan Richards with a silver in carpentry, Tyler Paquette with a bronze, also in carpentry, and Megan Brown, who earned a silver in hairdressing.
“They represented Brooks, Vancouver Island University and our entire community of Powell River in a marvellous way,” said Palm. “They’re great ambassadors and due to that great experience our two competitors who won gold will go to provincials in the first week of April in Abbotsford, with at least 1,000 students competing.”
Palm said all of the students who competed in Nanaimo, medal winners or not, will be invited to go to Abbotsford to watch their fellow students compete.