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Students put job skills knowledge to test
Hughson High takes small schools top honor
Rocky Fisher
Rocky Fisher measures parts of a small engine as Central Valley High School teacher and event judge Tony Traini watches. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Approximately 750 high school students from throughout Stanislaus County journeyed to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds on Thursday to compete in 21 events at the 31st annual Stanislaus County Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition.

Hughson High School took the Small School Overall Award while Oakdale High School claimed the Large School Overall Award.

In addition to the competitive events, 50 business/industry representatives exhibited and spoke to students during the Career Expo.

Ceres High School students competed in a number of events with 22 law enforcement students either competing or providing security on the fairgrounds. Involved with the testing of competitors were members from the District Attorney's office and Sheriff's Department.

There are only three high schools in the county with law enforcement programs. Ceres High teacher Randy Cerny reported his program has great numbers and draws students from Ceres, Central Valley and Hughson high schools.

Cerny said about 200 of his former students have entered law enforcement since he started teaching the program in 1992. At least one is a judge. One of them, Chris Perry, is a Ceres Police Department lieutenant.

"They're all over the country, local, state and federal," said Cerny. "Not just police departments but also probation officers, custodial officers, 9-1-1 dispatchers, they're all over the place."

About 11 officers in Ceres Police Department learned under Cerny.

Students were rated on knowledge of their field of interest, ability to perform tasks using appropriate tools, and employability skills. Representatives from local business and industry judged students in competitive events including, agricultural engineering, automotive technology, criminal justice, fashion design, firefighter candidate, job seeking skills, marketing mathematics, robotics, retail selling, and welding.
Plaques were awarded to the top three participants in each event, and the top eight finalists received ribbons.

Central Valley High FFA adviser and ag teacher Brian Mortensen helped oversee the floriculture competition. Floriculture students competed against one another to correctly identify 25 house plant varieties, 25 cut flowers and 25 tools of the trade. They also had to evaluate arrangements in order of marketability, from best to worst; as well as judge the quality of house plant and potted plants. The end of the competition included corsage making using flowers, wire, tape and hot glue - in 30 minutes or less.

Criminal justice program students played the role of an officer to investigate a mythical crime. After interviewing the "victim," competitors questioned two witnesses, taking down suspect and vehicle information, writing a written narrative of their findings and presenting their findings with two actual prosecutors from the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office. Deputy district attorneys then quizzed the students about their findings to determine if a warrant can be filed. Both critiqued students on their thoroughness and accuracy, ability to clearly and concisely synopsize an incident; check for sufficient details; and judged overall appearance, confidence and presence.

Below is a compilation of the first- through third-place winners by event:

Agricultural Equipment Technology - first place, Nick Ruff (Hughson); second place, Blake Henson (Hughson);

Criminal Justice - third place, Adrian Garcia of Ceres High School;

General Marketing - first place, Shania DeJarnett (Hughson High);

Job Seeking Skills - first place, Mark Borges (Hughson); and third place, Michelle Borges (Hughson).

Portfolio Review - first place, Mark Borges (Hughson).