From left, Sam Cazares, from Kenai Alternative High School, Tim Saner from Kenai Central, and Cody Carroll from Soldotna High build a sawhorse in the Career and Technical Student Organizations conference Friday at Kenai Peninsula College.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
Kenai Peninsula Borough High School students were building more than sawhorses, flower arrangements and a good alfredo sauce at the 16th annual Career and Technical Student Organizations conference Friday at Kenai Peninsula College. They were building character, as well.
CTSO is an umbrella organization for clubs like SkillsUSA, Future Farmers of America and Business Professionals of America, where students learn and compete in a wide-ranging array of job skills.
"The guys that are doing it realize the value of it and how it helps kids prepare for future employment," said Walt Ward with KPC, one of the conference organizers.
In the process of learning how to use a table saw, place a rose bud and make a clean weld, students pick up some added benefits.
"They get better self-esteem, self-worth, being able to get up in front of a group and not freak out. There's a lot of character building, as well," Ward said.
Soldotna High School freshman and SkillsUSA club member Dallin Carlson chose to compete in an area where the potential for freaking out is high - job interview.
Students had to choose an industry in which to apply for a job, prepare a resume, then sit down with interviewers and go through the whole nerve-wracking experience.
"You're going to end up doing them anyway, so why not get a little education and practice?" Dallin said. "Everybody has to do job interviews in their life."
Dallin picked the fishing industry and applied for a job as a deckhand. He said his commercial fishing experience with his dad helped him feel prepared for the interview, but it didn't dispel all nerves.
"I had to do a little thinking on my feet. It was my first time, so I wasn't sure what they were going to ask me," he said.
Another SkillsUSA member, SoHi sophomore Greg VanCuren, picked culinary arts, also because of prior experience.
"My entire family has worked in some sort of restaurant," he said.
The experience served him well as he prepared the winning plate in the culinary arts competition, where students cooked homemade alfredo sauce with fettuccini noodles, chicken and capers.
Other winners from the District competition were: Welding - Mitchell Soares, Kenai Central High School, first place; Hector Rivera, KCHS, second; and Danny Maciariello, Skyview High School, third. Drafting: Alan Moiles, Soldotna High School, first; Dillon Ball, SoHi, second; and Will McDermid, SoHi, third. Construction - Sam Cazeras, Kenai Alternative High School, first; Gradey Iverson, KCHS, second; and Tim Saner, KCHS, third. Keyboarding - April D'Water, Homer High School, first; Nick Tesch, SoHi, second; and Corinne Ogle, Homer, third. Culinary Arts - Greg VanCuren, SoHi, first; Jasmine Klauder, KCHS, second; and April D'Water, Homer, third. Design, Make and Sell - Katie Connor, Connections, first; and Josh Puterbaugh, Connections, second. Prepared speech - Katie Connor, Connections, first. Floriculture - Katie Connor, Connections, first; Corinne Ogle, Homer, second; and Lilli Connor, Connections, third. Extemporaneous Speech - Ben Blue, Homer, first; Katie Connor, Connections, second; and Dillon Ball, SoHi, third. Job Interview - Josh Mokracek, SoHi, first; Levi Lacey, KCHS, second; and Jesse Carlson, SoHi, third.
The future workers are off to the state CTSO competition March 27-29 in Anchorage. From these experiences, vocational scholarships may await them. At the very least they will have a jump start on the fields they're interested in after high school.
"It opens a lot of doors for them," Ward said.
Jenny Neyman is the communications specialist for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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