By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — SHELBY — Students at the Orleans Career and Technical Educational Center are testing their skills against their classmates this week in SkillsUSA, a nationwide competition.
The SkillsUSA program gives more than 250 students at the Shelby campus an opportunity to show off what they’ve learned this year.
The hands-on activities that mirror classroom instruction and future careers, like security/law enforcement students performing mock traffic stops and run-throughs of DWI procedures.
Cosmetology students were able to show off their creative sides with a two-hour hairstyling competition that had no limits.
”There’s not a lot of rules,” Cosmetology Instructor Sue Lindke said as her juniors were putting their first touches together. “They create what they want ... it’s amazing how different they can make them look.”
The class has worked on braiding, styling and cutting basics this year; seniors completed more intricate designs in the morning session — running a hair/nail salon two days each week helps.
Lindke’s students are graded not just on their styling but also their professionalism. With some girls’ parents looking on, the class quietly and quickly got to work.
That’s an important thing. Although these students are just a few months into their instruction, it won’t be long before they can be professionals. The competition’s six judges, all from Medina and Lockport salons, may soon be their employers.
“It’s becoming a high-quality profession,” said Lindke, who herself graduated from the center’s cosmetology program. “People call us every year looking for new stylists. If (the students) take it seriously they can do well.”
That’s the same for the students in OCTEC’s welding program. They have a week to complete a written test and create a welded piece to specifically match a blueprint.
“The hardest challenge is quality, not quantity,” Welding Instructor Eric Farrell said. “The last thing I told them is to picture this as the one thing they’d an employer.”
Farrell’s students participate in a number of competitions, from an American Welding Society event to an upcoming welding sculpture competition. One of his 20 juniors and another one of his 14 seniors will advance in the SkillsUSA competition.
Top performers advance to a regional competition in March at Alfred State, with later competitions at the state level in April at Syracuse and nationally in Kansas City this summer. Orleans-Niagara BOCES sent a delegation to the championships last year, with past students taking home first-place and other high honors.
While photos of students who’ve won at the state or national levels line the walls of the center’s main lobby, OCTEC Counselor and Skills USA Advisor Kara Kirk said there are benefits to all students who join the organization.
”Just being a member offers them different opportunities tying into SkillsUSA,” Kirk said. “For leadership, student officers did a three-day conference that taught them how to lead service projects, fundraise and speaking skills.”Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.