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Students test occupational knowledge, skills in Turlock
Hughson Occ Oly
Hughson High School students who participated in the ag mechanics competition at Thursday’s Occupational Olympics were (left to right), Matt Lovejoy, David Perez, Daniel Olivas, Cole West, Isaac Payan and Gary Coldicutt. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Ceres High School law enforcement student Celeste Leon was nervous interviewing a mock crime victim and mock witness as part of competition in Thursday’s Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition. But as interviews progressed, her confidence grew.

“It was a cool experience,” said the CHS senior, “because it kind of felt like real-life.”

Leon is more interested in pursuing a career in the medical field than law enforcement but she will benefit from her competition – judged by two real local police chiefs – at the Turlock Fairgrounds.

She was one of only two law enforcement students from Ceres to participate in the event, which hadn’t been held for the last two years because of COVID.

Occupational Olympics helps to promote academic and occupational understanding in various career areas. The event also recognizes high school students who excel in their mastery of skills.

Turlock High School left the fairgrounds with the Large School Overall Award and Hughson High School claimed the Small School Overall Award.

Vendors representing businesses and industry participated 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 15 competitive events including, agricultural engineering/construction, agricultural technology, animal husbandry, basic life support CPR/first aid, criminal justice, culinary, floriculture, job-seeking skills, medical occupations, drag racing, portfolio review, small engine technology, robotics, video game design and welding.

Six Hughson High School students competed in the Agricultural Equipment Technology contest. Students were evaluated on tractor and farm machinery parts identification, a written safety and general education test, driving, backing up and hitching tractors to implements and troubleshooting equipment failure.

Most confident in the group was Daniel Olivas.

“I have the most experience,” said Olivas. “I used to work at a dairy and used to a tractor every day.”

“The hardest part was probably the test,” admitted Gary Coldicutt, “because nobody studied.”

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 received ribbons.

One small and one large school were awarded a Sweepstakes Award.

Besides Ceres, Central Valley and Hughson, participating included the Stanislaus Military Academy in Ceres, Beyer, Davis, Downey, Elliot Alternative Education, Enochs, Johansen, Modesto, Orestimba, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Valley College, Pitman, Turlock and Waterford.

The event was sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), Stanislaus Partners in Education (SPIE), Stanislaus County Fair, Modesto Junior College, local business and industry, and school districts from throughout the county.

Winners from Ceres and Hughson high schools were reported as follows:

Small Engines Technology

Second place, Eduardo Larnoa of Central Valley High School.

Sixth place, Joseph Dinis of Hughson High School.

Salad Prep & Display

7th place, Arshdeep Toor of Central Valley High

Job Seeking Skills

7th place, Devrie Barstow of Hughson High.


6th place, Chase Davis of Hughson High.

7th place, Lucas Craston of Hughson High.


5th place, Central Valley High School team of Jayro Bustos, Josue Rodriguez and Daniel Rodriguez.

6th place, Central Valley High School team of Kevin Lee, Armando Guajardo and Matteo Torres-Pichardo.


8th place, Molly Tanis of Hughson High.

Criminal Justice

4th place, Noemi Delahoya of Central Valley High School.

5th place, Maxel Cachu of Central Valley High School.

7th place, Celeste Leon of Ceres High School.

Ag Equipment Technology

1st place, Matt Lovejoy of Hughson High.

2nd place, Daniel Olivas of Hughson High School.

3rd place, Gary Coldicutt of Hughson High School.

5th place, Isaac Payan of Hughson High School.

7th place, Cole West of Hughson High School.

8th place, David Perez of Hughson High School.

Eduardo Lamou
Central Valley High School student Eduardo Lamou identifies parts of a small engine at the Occupational Olympics. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Joseph Dinis
Hughson High School student Joseph Dinis identifies parts of a small engine at the Occupational Olympics. - photo by Jeff Benziger