January 15, 2014 - Fifty-four competitors from seven high schools in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties gathered at Springfield Oaks County Park, Dec. 12, to prepare for Skills USA competitions in the spring
Competitors demonstrate their construction skills in competition, Dec. 12. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
"This is a training exercise for competition – the top three teams move on, so it can be nerve wracking," said Aaron Swett, technical skills instructor at Oakland Technical Campus Northeast. "This is our version of a scrimmage."
The students work with instructors and volunteers, Swett said.
"It's a good construction experience," he said. "They're looking great."
This is the seventh year for the competition.
"It get bigger and better every year," said Dick Moscovic, construction technology instructor at Oakland Technical Campus Northwest. "We're happy to host the other schools, instructors and students. We really look forward to it."
The students learn teamwork and dedication, as well as framework, masonry, and other skills, said Mark Valchine, teacher at William D. Ford Career Center.
"It not only helps them learn, but also teaches them what they don't know," Valchine said. "It help us gauge our instruction. It's a learning experience for all of us."
Volunteer Steve Spiris, retired builder, was very happy with what he saw at the competition.
"I really like to get involved with cool activities in the building trades," Spiris said. "If I can contribute anything with these kids, I'm more than happy to."
"This is a great project, with this amount of construction going on, it's fun," said Jerry Roberts, volunteer and retired from construction. "This is a great way get to be a part of it, with people with a lot of talent who love to share – I love being a part of it."
This is a good time to get into the building trades, Roberts added.
"There aren't enough people in it – you can get a job immediately out of high school, good paying jobs too," he said.
"This is a great activity," said Chuck Locklear, dean of Oakland Technical Center, Northwest campus. "Kids get a measure of their skills and abilities compared to what the others bring. It works on their motivation and opens the window to the possibilities open to them."
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.