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RHS Students Showcased In SkillsUSA Competition
Skills Group
Graphic Design Teacher Jon Gianelli, students Chris Martinez, Jose Lares, Matthew Nisperos, and Building and Construction Instructor Cory Casteel represented Riverbank High School at the SkillsUSA competition with video game design and woodworking. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank High School Building and Construction Instructor and SkillsUSA club advisor, Cory Casteel, and Graphic Design Instructor Jon Gianelli along with a team of SkillsUSA club members participated in the SkillsUSA competition in February at Delta College. Riverbank High students Chris Martinez and Jose Lares placed third in video game design, Matthew Nisperos received first place in the carpentry competition and Victor Verdin participated in the introductory woodworking competition.

There were two teams representing Riverbank High School in the video game competition. Lares and Martinez were one team and Ivan Cebreros and Xavier Calderon were another; they placed fourth at the SkillsUSA competition.

“In order to be compliant we wanted to provide our students with an opportunity to be involved with a club that is international,” said Gianelli. “Mr. Casteel started the club last year on campus. We kind of joined our classes together because I do all the tech stuff, multimedia, and then he does construction classes so we decided to combine those things.”

This is the first SkillsUSA competition that RHS has participated in and it was a learning experience for the participants and advisors. Lares and Martinez enjoy playing video games which led them to take the Graphic Design class at RHS. They both expressed having an interest in developing video games, including the concept art, creating characters, blueprints and coding. They created a game called Nightwalker that they had photographs of which were presented to the judges. They did not have the demo of their game due to a bit of confusion on the rules. The other teams had the demo on a laptop and presented it to the judges and since they did not have their demo it cost them some points.

“My favorite part is the modeling aspect,” said Lares. “Where you can just create like you can distort objects and make them anything you like. We would definitely do it again. It was a great learning experience.”

“The unreal engine and the possibilities are really endless and we just let our imagination just reign and do whatever we want,” said Martinez. “Competition was really good. I didn’t expect it to be so good. It made me really nervous but we did good.”

The video game is still being created and is their main project through the school year.

In the future Lares would like to pursue a career in the video game industry and create video games. Martinez has already enlisted in the United States Army Reserves.

“They did a really good presentation and they were very professional and they got a little nervous,” added Gianelli. “It is good they worked the kinks out so that they are ready for the state competition. They also need to keep working on their presentation skills. They are going to continue to work on the game and refine it so it is getting more and more complete. It was a good experience.”

Nisperos received a first place win for the woodworking competition. Contestants had to build a small version of a house. He was given a diagram of the specifications for the house and a material list that they had to stick to.

“They gave us three views of what the house should look like,” stated Nisperos. “It was kind of challenging. They gave us a certain amount of material and every cut had to be precise and everything.”

Although there were not very many volunteers Casteel saw promise in some of the students and approached each one individually to compete in the SkillsUSA competition. He was a contractor most of his life and understands the importance of the skills his students are learning.

“That is my goal, to get them through all these different tools to understand how they work and use them safely in the intro class because I have no idea what they can do or can’t do and they got to show me,” stated Casteel. “With every tool I do a written test and then a safety part, after they pass that they do a hands on presentation.”