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Students hone their career path at Occupational Olympics
As part of the 30th Annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition, students had to demonstrate their knowledge and skill using the VEX Robotics system to score points in the Sky Rise Arena.

What do robots, fashionable clothing, and flowers all have in common?

They all represented different competitive events that challenged over 750 Stanislaus County high school students who participated at the 30th Annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition.

Sponsored by Save Mart CARES, the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Stanislaus Partners in Education, the Stanislaus County Fair, Modesto Junior College, local business and industry, and school districts throughout the county, the Wednesday event was designed to test and bolster both the academic and occupational understanding of students in numerous career areas.

According to Director of Career Technical Education Cindy Young, students were able to engage in 19 competitions during the Wednesday event, including robotics, fashion design, and floriculture. For each event, students were judged by local business and industry representatives.

Young also noted three other competitive events, welding, introduction to business applications, and video game design, were held at different locations.  

Plaques were awarded to the top three participants in each event, and the top eight finalists received ribbons. Turlock High School won the Large School Award overall and Hughson High School won the Small School Award.

 “Students have a chance to display their skills, meet other students, and find out more about career and post-secondary educational options,” said Young. “It’s also a validation of what they’ve been learning in class and lets them find out if they have the skills and knowledge to go forward, whether it is immediately to a job or post-secondary education.”

With the help of Pitman High School senior Julia Souza who served as her model, Turlock High School senior Lindsey Holm was able to boost her cosmetology skills at one of the event’s competitions.

 “It was a really good experience to compete against my cosmetology classmates and see what I could create for the theme,” said Holm.

“I’ve always wanted to go into cosmetology and this just confirmed it,” said Souza.

During the event, students were also given the opportunity to introduce themselves to representatives from approximately 60 different vendors from college and career industries.

Oakdale High School senior Kurtis Bishop enjoyed perusing all of the different vendors that were in attendance at the event and particularly found the military representatives interesting.

 “I’ve been thinking about the military for quite a while and they had Army and Air Force representatives here,” continued Bishop. “It would be nice if they included other branches to get more of an idea of what to expect.”

Whether or not they favored the competitive events or finding out more information about possible career or education paths, it is safe to say that all students agreed that the annual event once again showcased all of the different options available to them upon graduation.

“It really opens up your eyes to see how everything works in whatever you want to do,” said Pitman High School junior Amber Johnson.

“This event didn’t just focus on one thing, it focused on a lot of different things you can do,” said Pitman High School junior Gema Reyes. “There were even organizations here that I didn’t know existed.”