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Students test career knowledge
Approximately 800 students from throughout Stanislaus County tested their job skills in Turlock at the 26th annual Stanislaus County Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition.

A number of them came away puffed up with awards. Others learned they have some more studying to do.

Hughson High School took the Small School Overall Award while Turlock High took the large school award.

A total of 52 Ceres High School students and 25 from Central Valley High School competed in events. Ceres students participated in Ag Engineering, Criminal Justice, Marketing Mathematics, Floriculture, Hairstyling, Introduction to Business Applications, and Manufacturing Technology Robotics competitions.

Ceres High School teacher Mike Corsaut said students enjoy the day of competition.

"It gives them a chance for them to actually show off what they know," said Corsaut. "It's getting ready for life and makes it more relevant to them."

New to the competition was the Robotics Challenge, which pitted Ceres and Central Valley high schools in Ceres against Johansen High School and Turlock High School. The students worked in teams to design and complete two distinct robots - the Vex and Lego - to specifications and using the VEX Systems and Mind storms. Machines had to remotely pick up plastic and tennis balls while another used a light sensor to sort them by color once deposited into a wooden box. CVHS students designed their robots - one was completed in a day - with claw like arms that caught the balls with taut rubber bands.

"It takes a lot of teamwork," said Johnny Proctor, a student in the Allied Technologies class. He said at times there are disagreements among team members about how to design robots.

Proctor said he is thinking about a career in engineering.

The Central Valley students have already found success in other robotics competition and have qualified to participate in the VEX Robotics World Tournament in Orlando, Fla., in April.

The Central Valley team took second place in the robotics competition. Members of the team are Euris Mazorra, Sargon Hermiz, Christian Cruz, Eric Munoz, Johnny Proctor and Cecilio Vasquez.

Ceres High's team was right behind in third place. Members are Blake Hurst, Brandon Christianson, Bradley Bunton, Tyler Nonce, Devon Buser and Arjun Sanga.

Floriculture students, said agricultural teacher Heather Adney, 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 - under 30 minutes.

This marked the 17th year that Ceres High School dispatched a team to compete in the Law Enforcement Investigation competition. Instructor Randy Cerny said 32 of the 130 student enrolled in criminal justice classes at CHS competed in Turlock.

Students played the role of an officer to investigate a mythical shooting. After interviewing the "victim" in a shooting, competitors questioning 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 Jeff Mangar and Tony Colacito then grilled the students about their findings to determine if charges were worthy of being filed in court.

Mangar said he was encouraged by the interest of Ceres students in law enforcement, saying, "it's neat to see gets involved at an early age."

Both said they 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.

"This really helps them understand the importance to communicate well verbally and write concise reports," said Cerny.

Cerny's other students spent the day providing peer security for the fairgrounds, keeping students from straying off the fairgrounds. Alex Ochoa said he chased after students who were sneaking off to do other things.

Cerny said last year his students caught two students who slipped off to a car where they were having sex.

"I'm proud of our students who provide security services," said Cerny. "They did a good job."

Other local winners at the Occupational Olympics were;

• William Bailey (CVHS), second place in Agricultural Equipment Technology;

• Lane Ichord (Hughson), first in Automotive Technology;

• Grant Hudelson (Hughson), second in Automotive Technology;

• Roberto Serrato (Ceres), second in Criminal Justice;

• Yaritza Alvarez (Ceres), third in Hairstyling;

• Maria Espitia (Hughson), third in Introduction to Business Applications;

• Maggie Gayford (Hughson), first in Job Seeking Skills;

• Brad Borges (Hughson), third in Job Seeking Skills; and first place in Portfolio Review.