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Turlockers win big at Occupational Olympics

POSTED March 26, 2010 9:19 p.m.
Turlock High Agriculture and ROP teacher Chad Russell remembers when he competed in the Stanislaus County Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition in 1996. The competition, along with the ROP classes he took as a student, steered him into the career he has today.
“I competed in welding and I liked testing my skills against students from other area high schools,” Russell said.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition on Wednesday where students showed off the skills they have learned in their Regional Occupational Program classes.
Over 700 students competed in 23 different events, which included everything from accounting to automotive technology to floriculture.
The top eight finalists in each event received a blue ribbon and plaques were given to the top three in each event. Students from Turlock High and Pitman High won nine first place awards, 11 second place awards and five third place awards. Turlock High School won the Large School Overall Award.
Each student was judged on their knowledge of their field of interest, their ability to perform tasks using appropriate tools and their employability skills.
Students from schools in Ceres, Modesto, Newman, Denair, Hughson, Riverbank, Oakdale and Patterson also placed in the top three in one of the 23 events.
There were also 54 business representatives who attended the event to speak to students about the specialties they displayed at the Career Exposition.
“The Occupational Olympics is a great venue for students to showcase the skills they’ve learned in their ROP classes,” said Alice Pollard, principal of the Career Technical Education/ROP at Turlock High. “ROP teaches students more than just job skills, it teaches them how to problem solve. As a result of their ROP classes, students are often a step ahead of their peers when they enter the workforce or go on to further their educational training.”
With the help of ROP classes, students are well-rounded and it helps provide them with necessary skills to compete with others in the workplace, Pollard said.
Going back to his own experience in 1996, Russell knows the importance of ROP classes, how it helped him and how the competitive side of the Occupational Olympics makes it memorable.
“I hope to pass on some of what I learned in high school to my students,” Russell said. “The Occupational Olympics has always been a high-quality competition. Students are proud to compete and take the event seriously.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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