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Local students shine at Occupational Olympics
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Turlock High senior Heather Fulton pitches her Twisted Corn Dog idea to representatives from Foster Farms at Wednesdays Occupational Olympics held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal



Turlock High School

Chellane Millette- First Place (Fashion Design)

Kalli Eidson- First Place (Hairstyling)

Gabriel Iniguez- First Place (Machine Tool Operation)

Gonzalo Diaz- First Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- light weight)

Gabriel Garcia- First Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- heavy weight)

Sam Aoraha- First Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- design)

Juan Cartes, Markus Gemperle, Mirella Lopez, Jeremy Paulson- First Place (Robotics Technology)

Johnny Olson- First Place (Welding)

Xavier Moreno –Second Place (Machine Tool Operation)

Brent Souza- Second Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- light weight)

Bhawandeep Rai- Second Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- heavy weight)

Blake Peterson- Second Place (Welding)

Mark Lopes- Third Place (Ag Equipment Technology)

Heather Hines- Third Place (Criminal Justice)

Brianna Joseph- Third Place (General Marketing)

Jesse Arroyo- Third Place (Machine Tool Operation)

Dylan White- Third Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- light weight)

Nick Paiz- Third Place (Pitsco Drag Racing- heavy weight)


Pitman High School

Simon Staley- First Place (Accounting)

Makenna Hanson- First Place (Floriculture)

Kevin Heckathorn- Second Place (Ag Equipment Technology)

Jamee Bollinger- Third Place (Accounting)


Denair High School

Brittany Hanson- First Place (General Marketing)

Sean Gowin- Third Place (Firefighter Candidate Training)

When Leo Scheuber was the Stanislaus County Regional Occupational Program Director 27 years ago he launched the Occupational Olympics in an effort to expose students to vocational and employment opportunities in the Valley.

“Back then not everyone was expecting to go to college, so for those kids who weren’t we especially wanted to expose them to vocational programs,” he said. “This is also a good avenue for kids to find their niche and then move on to a four-year university — that is what my son did in graphic communications and I went that route in agriculture.”

Nearly three decades later the push for career and technical education is coming back around as public colleges are being impacted by state budgets and industrial needs are calling for more students with trade skills.

On Wednesday, more than 700 students participated in the Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition, held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock. Twelve county high schools participated in about two dozen competitive events. Fifty business and industry representatives were also on hand to offer career and educational advice.

Competitive events included agricultural engineering, automotive technology, criminal justice, job seeking skills, marketing mathematics, retail selling, robotics, video game design and welding.

In the retail selling event students had to come up with a new twist to the corn dog. Marketing professionals from Foster Farms judged the competition. Students had to not only create a new flavor of corn dog, but also design the packaging and pitch the idea to the judges.

Turlock High School senior Heather Fulton pitched a corn dog with a twisted layer of breading to create a twister dog. Other students created Jalapdog (jalapenos in the corn dog), a vegan corn dog and a pizzadog.

One of the most real-world applicable competitions was the job-seeking skills competition. Students were judged on their ability to fill out an application, write a cover letter and produce an effective resume, and on their job interview skills.

“This was a good experience and it felt very real. There was pressure to impress, dress well, keep focused and give responses to questions,” said Beyer High senior Diana Giraldo.

One of the interviewers was Hughson-based Duarte Nursery Marketing Director Sarah Eldman, who said she was impressed with some of the students, resumes and interview skills.

Among the 12 schools that participated in the Olympics, Turlock High School finished on top with the large school overall award.