Upper Cape students heading to national Skills USA competition

By Caitlin Russell | May 25, 2013
Photo by: Caitlin Russell Back row: Kira Warden, Nichole Downing  and Cody Gove. Front row: Olyvia Deolim, Brianna Souca and Holly Warden. (Heading to nationals, but not pictured are Taryn Rounds, who studies environmental technology, and Eric Spencer, who is an Information Technology student.)

Eight Upper Cape Technical School students from Wareham are heading to the national Skills USA competition in Kansas City Missouri in June, after earning gold medals at the state level in April.

"I've been here nine years, and this is the most we've ever sent," said Upper Cape Superintendent Bob Dutch. There are 14 Upper Cape students heading to national competition in total.

At Skills USA, students complete projects to demonstrate their skills and how they might use their skills in future careers.

The competition started at the district level in March, where students from the Environmental Technology and Information Technology programs beat students from other South Shore vocational schools to move on to states.

Some students in the environmental program took on the challenge of acting as Occupational Health and Safety inspectors, trying their hands at inspecting shops in the school before inspecting real workplaces.

Juniors Olyvia Deloim, Brianna Souca, and Taryn Rounds, all of Wareham, teamed up for their project, and started out by inspecting the school's Environmental Technology shop.

"We made statistics to hand out to the shop" about potential safety hazards, such as things on the floor that one might trip over, or not using safety goggles while working in the lab, according to Deloim.

Environmental Technology students complete water and other tests in the lab at Upper Cape, for which they use various chemicals.

"The main focus in general was safety in workplaces," Deloim said.

The group then did an inspection at the Southeastern Massachusetts Resource Recovery Facility (SEMASS), where garbage in converted into energy.

Wareham twin sisters Kira and Holly Warden, also juniors, competed under the category of Career and Pathway Industrial Engineering.

"Our project was about testing water on the Cape," explained Kira. "We speculated on the Falmouth" drinking water, she said.

In the course of their research she and her sister found that the pH level of the water wasn't where it should be.

"We gave them a reason of why the pH might be off and how to fix it," said Kira.

In the process of doing the project, the students learned how to use a spectrometer.

"It measures a lot of things, but we used it to measure metals" in drinking water that are most harmful to humans, Kira explained.

Senior Cody Gove,a  Wareham resident, studies information technology at Upper Cape, and although the Wareham resident won't be heading to nationals, he earned a silver medal at the state competition for his project in "interworking."

"It's basically the connecting of computers over a network," Gove explained. He connected 30 computers together for the competition. "I had to connect to routers and one computer switch."

Skills USA adviser Frances Tkaczuk says that after presenting and having their projects critiqued by a panel of professionals from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration at the state competition, the students have time to fix any flaws in the projects.

"They'll be perfecting and correcting anything they want to add," said Tkaczuk.

Tkaczuk says that getting the field experience in an occupation can help students when it's time to decide what career path they're going to take. "It helps make their final decision for college easier because they have workforce experience."

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