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Riverbank Expo Competitors Share Winning Experience
RHS senior Rudy Medellin competed in the Salad Prep and Display event at the recent Occupational Olympics for the second year. Photo Contributed
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Culinary Instructor Emily Cowdrey along with second place winner Melina Barajas, and eighth place finishers Olivia Reyes enjoyed the competition at the Occupational Olympics earlier this month. Photo Contributed

There are several different competitions for students to participate in at Riverbank High School (RHS) and earlier this month they competed in the 37th Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition. Riverbank won the Small School Overall Award with several of the students placing in the top three for different events.

The competition was held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds where over 700 students from Stanislaus County high schools participated in 16 different events.

RHS freshmen Casey Robinson received second place in the Agricultural Equipment Technology event and Nico Pereira came in fourth place. During the first part of the competition, they had to build a box without instructions and only a picture of the final result, with a competition that was timed. The second part was wiring an electrical circuit. They both expressed being nervous on the first part and neither finished their box. However, they gained more confidence on the second half.

“I am really happy that they placed especially because they are freshmen. They have three more years to learn more if they keep taking the class,” said Instructor Cory Casteel. “I think it is good for the kids to get out and do something outside of school and show off their skills and show what they learned and get recognized.”

Casteel explained that he only recruits students that he thinks “will represent the school well, will be competitive, put in the time and effort to be successful.”

For the Salad Preparation and Display event, RHS senior Melina Barajas won second place for a complex Thai salad that she created. They are judged on sanitation and personal appearance, organization and use of utensils and equipment, creativity, eye appeal, taste and texture, table setting, and theme as well as originality.

“This was my first time competing,” added Barajas. “It was really fun. Building my salad was my favorite part.”

Seniors Olivia Reyes and Rudy Medellin were not in the top three but they enjoyed competing and expressed that it was a good experience. This is Medellin’s second time competing and Reyes’s first.

Swooping in and picking up third place in Video Game Design was the team effort by seniors Esteban Verdin, Jose Arellano, and Darien Parshall. They explained that during the competition they got to play other students’ games and other students played their game. Judges also played the games, reviewed them, and ranked them.

“It went very well for me and my team,” noted Verdin. “We ranked the highest out of all the small schools. The two that were above us were from big schools. Other schools have multiple teachers for this and we only have one (teacher).”

Their game is called AM 2026 and they explained that it is military related where people take turns moving around their squad and doing different attacks to get the upper hand on the enemy.

“I thought it was great,” expressed Instructor Jon Gianelli about the competition. “Really fun because not only were the students judged but they got to show their stuff to a bunch of people that could come in and look at their games. They got to see what the other high schools in the county were working on. They felt really good where they were at and what they are learning.”

The students shared that through the competition they were allowed to see how other games were created which helped them examine what may be missing from their own game as well as how to improve their game.

“It was kind of like a melting pot of all different ideas, different genres of games so it was cool seeing everybody’s ideas being laid out and seeing what we were up against,” remarked Parshall. “It was very interesting. The result I feel was warranted. I think we ranked where I expected to rank.”

“I was certain that we were going to get fourth or fifth but when they said we placed third I was really hyped about everything and how we performed in the competition,” stated Arellano. “One of the judges kept replaying our game so at that point I knew that we probably did something really good. Mr. Gianelli, he really does his best to help us and teach us what he knows.”

In the welding competition Instructor Michael Thomas had four students compete, Carlos Garcia (sixth place), Hector Rojo Rios, Juan Solano de los Santos, and William Alexander.

Thomas noted, “The students did great and got to experience a competitive welding contest for the first time. Students had to complete a Tool Identification Test, a general welding knowledge test, a Shielded Metal Arc Welding Project and an Oxygen-Acetylene Welding Project, each rotation was timed giving students 45 minutes per section.”

There are seven students from RHS that will be participating in the Skills USA state competition next month held in Ontario, California.

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Riverbank High School freshman Casey Robinson took second place in the Agricultural Equipment Technology event at the Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition earlier this month. Photo Contributed
The Video Game Design team of Esteban Verdin, Jose Arellano, and Darien Parshall brought Riverbank High School the third place award for their video game design. Photo Contributed