Carlton students return from national skills competition

(Left to right) Carlton students Kelly Lam, Emily White, Nicholas Doucette, Jesse Hamm and Cole Bear pose with their provincial skills competition medals. White and Doucette are headed to nationals in May. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A pair of Carlton students have returned from the national Skills Canada competition that was held in Halifax last week.

Emily White represented Saskatchewan in the baking competition, while Nicholas Doucette competed in precision machining.

While neither of the high schoolers came back with a medal, both were proud of their performances. White finished as the seventh best young baker in the country, while Doucette earned a fourth-place finish.

“It was a good competition but it was so much harder than anything at the provincial level,” Doucette said.

“The time frame is less and the amount of work you have to do is almost twice as much. It’s a lot of new stuff you don’t learn in high school.”

White also found the competition more challenging.

“It was really good. It was pretty intense compared to the provincial level,” she said.

“I had to change my scope and make new recipes.”

Doucette was working with a milling machine, building a part representing all of the skills a machinist needs to have.

White, meanwhile, was tasked with baking a handful of items. She needed to bake Winston knot break, Vienna-style buns petit fours, tarts and filled cookies. She also had to decorate a cake with fondant.

“it was really cool,” she said.

“It was amazing to see all of the kids with all of the skills in so many different trades from around all of Canada.”

While he was disappointed at first, Doucette said the whole experience was “amazing.

“After I got the results and didn’t win it hurt for a little bit, but you get over it and pick yourself up and say ‘I’m fourth in the country,’” he said.

“It was a lot of hard work and I’ve learned a lot more than just what you’re taught in your high school classes.”

 Justin Fendelet, one of the teachers who accompanied the students, was impressed by their efforts.

“They’ve worked tirelessly to do the things they have. To get to that level, it’s the big leagues,” he said.

“To see what these young people can do at the level of ability they have at such a young age is a pretty impressive thing, and for these people to walk among them, especially kids from Carlton.”

Fendelet said events like these are important, as they allow people to compete in something that could become a career option.

“There is so much hype and promotion for sport in our society, but it’s nice to see people get validation for the abilities they have at a really practical level,” he said.

“These are things people will be able to do as a career. Very few people will make the NBA, but everyone, if they start applying themselves towards these skills and trades, can do that as a career. It’s a great thing, a practical thing and it’s awesome to see what they can do.”

For their part, White and Doucette encouraged anyone thinking about entering a Skills Canada competition to go for it.

They also thanked everyone who helped them get there.

“I’ve been practicing with my mom, and Mr. Fendelet has been helping me a lot and the school too,” White said.

“And thanks to Skills Canada for putting this on. This was the 25th anniversary, and if it wasn’t for Skills Canada, we wouldn’t be able to do this kind of stuff.”

“A big thanks to the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division for helping to fund this trip for us to go,” Doucette added.

“It’s been an amazing experience overall.”