Career Studies students are up to the task

April 05, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Washington County's Career Studies Center students had a record performance at the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America state skills championships held for the first time in Washington County on Saturday.

County students took home six first-place awards out of 53 contests, and won 12 awards overall.

"This is the best we've ever done," said Principal Arnold Hammann.

The first-place winners will compete at the national championships in June in Kansas City. Mo.

"We've got some money to raise for plane tickets, but that's a good problem to have," he said.

More than 700 of Maryland's brightest students converged on Washington County on Saturday to compete in the contests.

About 30 students from Washington County competed in the daylong contests in categories ranging from cosmetology to computer applications to construction.

The contests were designed and judged by professionals in the field, said event organizer C. JoAnne Knode, the lead VICA advisor at the Career Studies Center.


Local students said they enjoyed the contests.

Kendra Simmons, 17, of Hagerstown, competed in child care. Instead of having real children on hand, the judges acted as if they were children, she said. She had to develop a behavior management plan, tell the "children" a story and teach them a "chicken song."

"I think I did pretty good," she said.

She did more than pretty good. She won first place, which means a trip to Kansas City in June for the national championships.

Simmons, a senior at the Career Studies Center, is a veteran of the contest. Last year she came in third in the state in the category.

She will attend the University of Maryland at College Park and plans to study psychology and education, she said.

Shawn Pombo, 18, carried the banner as Washington County's "top dog" in the electrical wiring contest.

"It's a learning experience," he said of the six-hour contest.

Pombo said he plans to get a job in the local area doing electrical work after he graduates.

Sarah Howell, 17, also a CSC senior, entered in the public speaking contest and delivered a five-minute speech on quality in the workplace and achieving new heights - the VICA theme.

She came in second.

"I was just so happy. It felt really good," she said Saturday night.

Howell said she spent two months working on the speech. She hopes to attend college and study biochemistry.

She was also elected as an alternate state delegate to the VICA national convention.

Robert L. Kline, president of the county Board of Education, presided over the judging for the cabinet-making contest.

Kline, 68, said he's worked with wood since he was 15. He also was a judge in 1993.

"They asked me (to help) and I was very glad to oblige," he said.

"This is a very good bunch of students. The people from the area and the state should be very proud," he said.

Hammann said the contest is a great opportunity for students.

"It's a tremendous experience for them. Any time you compete at this level, it's a growing experience. It's something they'll never forget."

The students are exposed to professionals in the business, and companies target promising students with apprenticeships and job offers, Hammann said.

In addition to CSC, competitions were held at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, Hagerstown Junior College, E. Russell Hicks Middle School and Tri-State Printing.

Prizes in some categories included sets of tools and scholarships.

Knode said all of the contestants were winners, because they had to win local and regional contests to make it to the state contest.

An army of volunteers, including about 40 students, gave up their Saturdays to help coordinate the event.

"That's one thing I like about education in Washington County. If you need help, they're there. And that makes all the difference," Knode said.

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