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RHS Students Compete In SkillsUSA
Kelvin Pinto
Riverbank High School student Kelvin Pinto Figueroa took second place in the Introductory Woodworking SkillsUSA competition. Photo Contributed

Riverbank High School students competed in a SkillsUSA competition that included a variety of contests like the 20 Second Elevator Story, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Introductory Woodworking earlier this year. The 2020-21 Regional Conference Results for Region 5 came out and RHS students placed well and are looking ahead to the state competition in April.

The Officers for the SkillsUSA club are senior Cecilia Temps as President, junior Ward Choeb as Vice President, senior Esmeralda Carrillo Felix is the Treasurer, sophomore Reporter Esteban Verdin, senior Jennifer Andrade Lopez is the Secretary, and sophomore Melany Mejia Contreras is the Parliamentarian. There are 450 students from the five CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs except the Ag program at RHS in the club. They hold meetings virtually every Thursday.

“I think since this is my last year, I am a senior, I figured I would try something new,” said Temps about being President of the SkillsUSA club at RHS. “I like it. I thought it would be really good for me and seeing that it helps with technical skills and workplace skills I thought that would be really great and helpful.”

“They (Officers) have been doing a fantastic job,” stated Building and Construction Instructor Cory Casteel. “My next goal for my students and program is to develop partnerships with companies for internships and a pipeline to employment.”

A goal that Vice President Choeb has for the club is doing anything to help the environment in Riverbank. He also mentioned as a club possibly having a clean-up day at the beach.

“I handle the financial situation but right now with COVID we have $1,000 to spend but because of COVID we are really limited,” noted Felix. “We have been trying to spend it on having fun with the club.”

This is the first time that this competition was held virtually and teachers were not able to be present.

Drama Instructor, Lezlie Acker had a few students in the Skills competition this year for the first time and two students earned top honors. Joshua Vega Jr. competed in the 20 Second Elevator Story and received first place for his speech receiving a score of 928 out of 1000 that gives him a Gold Medal. This 20 second speech was about what the SkillsUSA organization is. Vega did some research and took notes to prep for the contest.

“The challenging part was the whole experience,” said Vega. “It was something that I had never done. I have never been in a competition before. This is the first time I will be going to the state. It makes me nervous. It will not only help you break out of your comfort zone but it will set you up for success. I am also really happy to get a medal because I have not got an award for something so it will be really cool.”

Marissa Garza received first place in Extemporaneous Speaking during the competition. She expressed that it was interesting competing virtually. The speech was not prepared and had to be given on the spot to a group of judges online.

“At first I was kind of nervous because I wasn’t exactly sure but I did some studying the night before to help me understand more about the program and how it helps with future skills,” added Garza. “I am really excited for that (state comp) because now I have had the experience in doing this and I know that I will be more prepared and I know what to think about and can prepare for it.”

Ward Choeb also competed in the same category and placed third.

“My favorite part was just getting ready for it,” stated Choeb. “I was very nervous and that was pretty fun just getting ready for the speech. When I started talking I felt more confident. I did stutter a little bit while going because my mind went blank. I couldn’t talk for a couple of seconds but then I managed to pick myself up and keep on talking.”

There were four students that participated in the Introductory Woodworking competition, Melany Mejia Contreras, Kelvin Pinto Figueroa, Christian Castro, and Luis Martinez. The students were given the design and requirements for the build and then they had to make a 3- to 5-minute video explaining how they built the project. They had to submit a résumé and on the day of the event they took a test on safety, tool identification, reading a ruler and a sample of Bill of Materials. The final process was an interview with judges regarding their project.

“They were on their own,” remarked Casteel. “All the tools and materials to do the contest were donated by Lowe’s. They gave us gift cards to buy the tools and materials to do their projects.”

Contreras took first place during the competition where she learned about safety, parts and created a book shelf. With a love for creating things, Contreras found the competition to be really fun.

Figueroa took second place and was pretty excited as this was his first competition and he really enjoys working with wood.

“I thought it was pretty cool and getting second place was pretty awesome,” said Figueroa. “One of the things that was challenging for me was getting the materials. It wasn’t like a competition; it was mostly something fun to do.”

For first time competitor Castro, the competition was fun. He received third place and enjoys working with wood.

“Personally I think it would be easier to do it in person,” added Castro. “Probably putting it together was my favorite part.”

Martinez liked the experience and was a first time competitor as well that placed fourth.

The students will continue on to the State Competition that will be held virtually in April.

RHS Skills Team
The SkillsUSA Club along with the officers and competitors gathered recently for a virtual meeting to review their experiences with the event and talk about the upcoming state competition. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS