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Students Showcase Skills At Occupational Olympics
RHS Occupational Olympics
Jose Rivera, left, won second place in the Ag Engineering and Construction Trades competition at the Occupational Olympics last month with Jesus Tovar, at right, taking top honors winning first place. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL

More than 500 students from across Stanislaus County took part … and Riverbank High School students placed in the top three at the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s 36th Annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition that was held at the Stanislaus Fairgrounds in March. The competition was steep with students from a number of high schools competing in 15 events.

In the Ag Engineering Construction Trades category, Riverbank senior Jesus Tovar took First Place in the competition. He built a wooden tool box and used the tips from Building and Construction Instructor Cory Casteel. His motivation for competing this year was redemption, as Tovar did not feel like he did that great in years past.

“I felt excited that I won and happy,” expressed Tovar on his first place win.

Taking second place in the Ag Engineering Construction Trade category was senior Jose Rivera.

“Technically I have been practicing for it since ninth grade,” said Rivera. “I am surprised I got second place. I have already done this competition before. I already knew some of the stuff. It (placing second) is pretty nice.”

Jesus Sanchez also competed and came in with an eighth place showing.

Culinary Instructor Emily Cowdrey had 12 students compete and two students received first place in the Salad Prep competition. There were over 70 students that competed. Three students received perfect scores including Vanessa Torres and Isabel Valenzuela. They drew numbers to break the tie and Torres landed first place and Valenzuela got third. Jordan Velasco placed eighth in the competition.

Torres explained that they had to make a salad of their choice with dressing and present it.

She said, “I wanted to do something new. I am not usually the type to do new things so I was like this year I have to get out there.”

They had 20 minutes to prep the salad, construct it and display it. Torres explained that she did a very simple presentation of her Bagna Cauda Egg Salad on Toast.

“I did not think I would win,” added Torres. “I got first place. I guess by luck but at the same time I did get a perfect score. It is my first year taking culinary and competing. I took the tips that my teacher gave me and everyone I could and put it into the recipe. So thanks to all of them I was able to win.”

The students received a ribbon and plaque.

There were also 38 business and industry representatives with exhibits at the event, taking time to speak to students for the Career Expo portion of the day.

Vanessa Torres
Riverbank High School culinary student Vanessa Torres received a perfect score in the Salad Prep competition and brought home first place honors from the countywide Occupational Olympics. - photo by Photo By Virginia Still