The future of Stanislaus County’s workforce seems to be in plentiful, capable and eager hands.
Approximately 750 Stanislaus County high school students converged Wednesday at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock for the 29th Annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition, sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
During the competition representatives from local businesses, schools and industry judged students in 22 competitive events in fields such as agricultural engineering, automotive technology, criminal justice, fashion design, marketing, mathematics, robotics, retail selling, welding, salad preparation and video game design.
Students were rated on their knowledge of the chosen field, ability to perform a task using appropriate tools and employability skills.
One of the largest competitions included the Stanislaus County Intro to Fire Protection ROP course, which included 48 students from various high schools. Instructor Bob Watt, a retired Modesto City Firefighter, explained that the OOCE competition is created to mimic what an actual hiring process for a fire department would include, from resumes to written tests, oral boards and the extensive physical agility test. This component includes students donning full firefighting gear and then going through a continuous obstacle course format that involves a hose drag, dummy drag, ladder setup and climb, search and rescue, sledgehammer strikes and knot-tying ability.
“By the time these kids graduate high school and move on to college or apply for jobs as firefighters they will have the much-needed aspect of prior knowledge. In the next several years a lot of agencies will be hiring back the firefighting positions they lost due to the economy. These kids are all at the perfect age for those opportunities,” said Watt.
In the creative arts side of the OOCE, Pitman High School’s Business Teacher Anna Eshoo organized the General Marketing competition. Students were directed to design a marketing campaign around a future iPhone product that included the exact product line, pricing, target market, and advertising strategies. The students were given five minutes to make a presentation with a poster board and the iPhone packaging they designed.
“It is really amazing to see how much work the students put into their projects, the ideas they come up with. It is so exciting to see these kids think outside of the box and use their creativity,” said Eshoo.
Aside from the competition aspect of the OOCE, more than 60 vendors from an array of local businesses, organizations, trade schools and colleges were at the event. One of the more interesting came from Doctors Medical Center, which had a table with dummy infants. One of the infants was made with a special monitor inside its skull to measure the amount of force from shaking it would require for brain damage to occur, which is very little force at all. Representatives from DMC explained the dummies were there because someday many of the high school students would babysit and they need to understand the fragility of an infant child.
All in all, the OOCE was a remarkable display of Stanislaus County’s overall depth of career and technical education opportunities. The best news of the day came when Turlock High School was announced as the sweepstakes winner for large schools.
Medal Winners from Turlock Schools
Vanessa Yepez (First) PHS, Jason Raley (Second) PHS, Michelle Doo (Third) PHS
Ag Equipment Technology:
Anthony Lopes (Second) THS
Chelanne Millette (First) THS, Susana Maldonado (Third) THS
Megan Beaman (Second) PHS
Job Seeking Skils:
Tim Truax (First) PHS
Miguel Alvarez (Third) THS
Reta Purdom (Second) THS
Pitsco Drag Racing (Light Weight):
Gerardo Tapia (First) THS, Derek Riley (Second) THS, David Del Rio (Third) THS
Pitsco Drag Racing (Heavy Weight):
Jack Nicolai (First) THS, Raul Cruz (Second) THS, Austin Cummings (Third) THS
Pitsco Drag Racing (Design):
Derek Riley (First) THS, Jack Nicolai (Third) THS
Salad Prep and Display:
Hunter Martinez (Third) THS
Trey Smith (First) THS, Grant Boerkson (Third) THS
Large School Overall Award:
Turlock High School