By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
800 compete in occupational contests
• 34th Occupational Olympics held in Turlock
Liani Angulo.jpg
Ceres High School student Liani Angulo carried her robotics machine to competition during the 34th annual Occupational Olympics at the Turlock fairgrounds. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Over 800 Stanislaus County high school students converged on the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock on Thursday for the 34th Annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition (OOCE). 

The event was designed to promote academic and occupational understanding in various career areas, and recognize high school students who excel in their mastery of skills.

Approximately 50 vendors represented business/industry and students had the opportunity to speak to them regarding careers and college.

During the exposition, representatives from local business and industry judged students in 19 competitive events including, agricultural engineering/construction, agricultural technology, automotive and small engine technology, criminal justice, culinary, firefighter candidate, floriculture, job seeking skills, marketing mathematics, medical occupations, robotics and welding.

Students were rated on knowledge of their field of interest, ability to perform tasks using appropriate tools, and employability skills. Plaques were awarded to the top three participants in each event, and the top eight finalists receive ribbons. One small and one large school were awarded a Sweepstakes Award.

Inside the textiles building at the Fairgrounds, Ceres High School teacher Randy Cerny was busy running law enforcement and criminal justice students through a competition testing their knowledge of processing a robbery at a convenience store either as a witness, victim or police officer presenting evidence to the district attorney. It is Cerny’s last year as a teacher; the program will be taken over by Anna Naranjo, a former Ceres resident and 19-year veteran of the Stanislaus County Probation Department.

Gary Condit Occ Oly.jpg
Ceres High School students Gary Condit (left) and Tabatha Brown go through a law enforcement exercise with Turlock Police School Resource Officer Mark Alberti at Thursday’s Occupational Olympics. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Ceres High School provided 24 of the students in law enforcement competition while other CHS students provided security for the event. Other competitors came from Turlock, Pittman, and Modesto high schools.

Turlock Police School Resource Officer Mark Alberti said he was impressed with the questioning of Ceres High School student Gary Condit who is president of the campus Criminal Justice Club.

“He sat there and listened to the whole story, started writing the notes and he pretty much almost hit every bullet point on there,” said Alberti. “He did really good. He was the only one asked if we identified the suspect.”

Tabatha Brown said the exercise taught her the importance of an officer getting all the information to write a good report on which a prosecutor can file charges. She said she is considering a career in law enforcement or art.

Hughson High kids.jpg
Hughson High School students Lucas Ruff (third from right) and Cameron Shapley (second from right) go over a review of parts of a spray rig offered by Randy Garcia of MidCal Ag of Hughson. - photo by Jeff Benziger

“I felt like it was very beneficial for those who would like to partake in law enforcement,” said CHS senior Bryanna Penaloza. “It was a good experience. It made me realize what kind of questions I would need to ask.”

Kyli Bickley, who wants to join the Air Force, said conversations she had with an officer opened her eyes to the possibility of applying for the Air Force Academy.

“I didn’t know I could go to school and do that,” said Bickley, a senior. “I never knew about it (the Academy).”

Hughson High School sent about 40 students to competition, said teacher Katie Schmidig.

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

• Agricultural Equipment Technology – Lucas Ruff of Hughson High School, second place.

• Fashion Design – Wendi Lizola Gomez, Ceres High, third place;

• Marketing Mathematics – Jose Cerrillos, Hughson High, third place;

• Portfolio Review – Michelle Borges, Hughson High, first place;

• Robotics Technology – Ruvi Pedroza and Liani Angulo, Ceres HS, first place; Kevin Lee and Jacob Alvarez of Central Valley High, third place.

• Small Engine Technology – Ruben Sanchez, Central Valley High School, third place.

The large school overall award went to Oakdale High School while the small school overall award went to Hughson High School.

Ruben Sanchez CVHS.jpg
Ruben Sanchez, Central Valley High School, placed third in Small Engine Technology. - photo by Jeff Benziger