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Olympians Build Skills For Their Future
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The students that competed in the Occupational Olympics under the direction of Al Scoles are shown here at a project that they are building in their ROP Building Construction class on the Riverbank High School campus. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS


Preparing for the future, hundreds of high school students participated in the 30th Annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition for Stanislaus County on Wednesday, March 25 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock and eight students from Riverbank High School were among those competing.

The competition was devised to promote academic and occupational awareness in various careers and honor students who excelled in mastering their skills. During the exposition there were vendors representing a variety of industries that took time to meet with students, offering information and answering questions related to the career paths that interested the students.

The participants were judged in 22 competitive events including agricultural engineering, automotive technology, criminal justice, fashion design, firefighter candidate, job seeking skills, marketing mathematics, robotics, retail selling, and welding.

ROP Building Construction, ROP Stage Craft teacher Al Scoles has been teaching at Riverbank High School for approximately 10 years and has participated in this competition for several years.

“Historically we have done well,” said Scoles. “I am happy that the building construction end of it has sizable prizes for the people who win and have a chance to go into the workplace with professional quality tools.”

Battling approximately 30 other students in the Ag Engineering/Construction category were eight participants from RHS, Tyler Frey, Sergio Guzman, Cesar Montesinos, Daniel Cebreros, Val Haro, Alex Ortiz, Sam Jasper, and Alex Ortega.

Haro brought home first place honors in that event back to RHS and was awarded a prize of a Makita skill saw that was donated from the Home Depot in Riverbank along with a few other prizes for all contestants participating.

Feeling good about the win, Haro humbly stated that he thought the other students did better than him “but out of the overall score, I guess I did the best.”

Jasper won third place in the same event and received a plaque.

“I thought I would do pretty well but I didn’t think I would get third so I was pretty happy with that,” stated Jasper.

“Home Depot donated about $200 worth of prizes for the winners no matter where they come from,” said Scoles. “We have a good working relationship with them and they do try to be community oriented and we try to help them whenever they need something too.”

The eight students competed in four different areas which were wood working along with critical thinking, an electrical project, an Ag engineering test, and a combination of a tool I.D. test as well as an estimating materials challenge. They spent about 40 minutes at each station and then rotated. The students were graded in each part of the competition.

Five of the eight teammates placed in the competition with Guzman who placed fifth, Montesinos placed seventh, and Ortega came in eighth place.

For the wood working project they had to build a box with limited specifics that included a math component, critical thinking and planning.

The electrical project included wiring a duplex receptacle, a switch, and a light with certain criteria that they had to meet. The Ag engineering test was a multiple choice test that had many things you would find on a farm from safety to chemicals, tools and welding. The tool identification challenge had a page with a list of 50 tools used in building construction and agriculture as well as a table with 30 tools to also identify. The estimated materials problems this year were estimating the amount of concrete that it would take to pour into three different slabs.

According to Scoles, RHS Principal Sean Richey observed the team of eight and was very impressed with the focus of all the students, especially those that sometimes have trouble staying on task during the normal school day.

The students were so focused that they would work during lunch to prepare for the competition.

“In life and in competition that is the difference between winning and not winning, preparation,” explained Scoles. “I am proud of the kids and how well they represented Riverbank.”