Collins Career Center students score big in competitions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Even before they begin to compete in the job market, students at the Collins Career Center compete with other vocational students from across the state.

The students have had a banner year as far as these contests of skill go, with 22 awards in three separate competitions in late February and early March: DECA, which tests marketing students, Skills USA, a test of vocational skills, and the Tech Prep Showcase.

Most recently, students participated in the Skills USA competition on March 4. The road to the competition is a long one, with students first having to win in their classroom and then the region before moving on to state and possibly even nationals.

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Christi Bare, instructor in the school’s health academy, took a team of health care students to compete in the Skills USA contest. Her group netted first-place wins in basic health care and a health knowledge bowl competing against others from across the region, which includes Columbus.

“We just feel that what we’re doing is worthwhile with the students’ success in this,” Bare said. “We always tell the students that we don’t care if they win at the regional level, we’re just so proud of them going.”

Bare said that besides helping the students’ self-confidence, the wins have also helped them to place more faith in their education as they compete against larger schools.

“They’re so proud, they feel so good about themselves that they are learning just as much as or more than students in other parts of the state,” Bare said. “Compared to our rural school, we’re going up against students from more urban regions, and to place first is great.”

One of the four health knowledge bowl winners, Misty Emery, said that she gives the credit to Collins’ teaching staff.

“I think the education out here is awesome, I love it,” Emery said. “We went up there and competed against all kinds of other teams, and we aced it.”

Although a top-notch education may have helped, that doesn’t mean the win didn’t require a hefty portion of elbow grease.

“We studied a lot, every in school we have first and second lunch, and we would eat during first lunch, and study through second lunch,” Emery said. “Then once a week we would stay after school and study. Yeah, we studied hardcore.”

Collins’ four first-place Skills USA winners will continue on to the state competition in late April, where a win could mean a trip to the national contest. DECA winners, of which there were nine, competed at the state level last week, with two students, Dever Viars and Amanda Osborne, nabbing a slot in the top ten.

The vocational school also had eight students who placed in the top three of the Tech Prep Showcase.

Collins Career Center Superintendent Steve Dodgion said he was “absolutely” pleased with the performance, the best, he said, “in a long time.” Dodgion gave the credit to an “academy” system that the school has made the switch to in recent years.

“We’ve taken our school and we’ve put it in to small learning communities, usually referred to in the educational setting as academies,” Dodgion said. “It’s a more intimate education environment for the students, and think that it’s beginning to affect the level of performance that these students are able to put forth.”

Meanwhile, Misty Emery’s teammate Kortney Sarka was less concerned with the academy system than taking the top prize at the upcoming state competition.

“I’m nervous, but we’re just going to study really, really hard,” Sarka said. “We’re going to study our books in and out.”