April 21, 2011
By Jason Misner
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, HDSB STAFF
On Thursday, April 7, the Halton District School Board’s 24th annual Halton Skills Competition was held at White Oaks Secondary School. The friendly competition took place from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with the results revealed and celebrated at the medals presentation earlier in the evening.
On this day, part of White Oaks Secondary School is a makeshift high-end hair salon, bursting with numerous mannequin heads filling in as test subjects. The high school students-turned-stylists are cutting, clipping, styling, hair spraying and hair drying their way to achieve a high placement – this is the Halton Skills Competition, after all, and they want to perform well.
“I enjoyed every moment of it,” says smiling Grade 11 Robert Bateman High School student Emma Shaw, as she cleaned up her salon station; she learned during the competition stylists should always keep tools and chairs clean. “I’ve always enjoyed doing hair.”
Hairstyling was one of many skills competitions going on throughout the busy day in which 800 elementary and secondary students showcased their talents and budding enthusiasm. Rooms and school areas were transformed into carpenter’s rooms, a florist shop, a bridal show and a photo lab, just to name a few.
Teams of elementary students in Grades 4-8 took part in activities like Technology Challenge, Distance Challenge, Lego Robotics, Animation and TV Video competitions. Secondary school students competed in numerous events including technical skills, architectural computer-assisted design, auto collision repair, auto service, auto painting, baking, cabinet making, carpentry, character animation, culinary arts, desktop publishing, digital photography (a new entry this year), electrical wiring, floristry, graphic design, hairstyling, home building, landscape gardening, mechanical computer-assisted design, precision machining, welding, small power equipment, TV/video production and apparel design.
Students say they were very impressed with the competition, citing they learned great team building and communication skills.
Ben, a Grade 8 student from Florence Meares Public School, was part of team in the Grade 7-8 Technology Challenge that designed a moving bucket for a firetruck.
“At the beginning, it was kind of hard to get your ideas set up but once you got going and light bulbs started turning on and everything started clicking, it was a lot of fun,” says Ben, adding this is his first time in the competition. “I like working as a team.”
Board staff members were very pleased with how the event turned out.
“It was another amazing day with all of the students totally engaged in the challenges and working collaboratively to solve problems,” says Ron Ballentine, the Board’s Coordinator of Environmental Education, Science and Technology. “Teachers and parents raved about the day including how much the students were enjoying the competition, and how well organized the event was. Superintendents and senior board staff were impressed with the level of critical and creative thinking taking place.”
The Halton Skills Competition is also connected to the curriculum, making the event an authentic learning experience for students. The Lego Robotics, Technology Challenge and Distance Challenge competitions, for example, connect directly to Science and Technology topics related to technological problem solving and the understanding of structures and mechanisms. Character Animation, TV/Video Production and Digital Photography connect directly to arts and media literacy in language.
Running concurrently with the skills competition was Career Showcase. It took place during the day involving representatives from the industry and education sectors, which included demonstrations, interactive activities and displays.
Students successful in the 2011 skills competition will go forward to represent the Halton District School Board at the Ontario Skills Competition in Waterloo from May 2-4 and then onto the Canadian Skills Competition in Quebec in late May or June.
Click here for results.