Students from Sturgeon Composite High School welded their way to gold and silver finishes at a regional skills competition in Edmonton earlier this month.
Sheldon Kieser and Jonathan Brown placed first and second respectively at the Edmonton Regional Skills Canada Competition.
“I didn’t think I was going to win. It was pretty insane,” said Kieser, 18. “I’m better at welding than I thought.”
The regional Skills Canada event had high school students competing in four events: welding, carpentry, culinary arts and auto service. Top-four finishers earned a berth in the provincial Skills Canada competition May 12 and 13 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Students in other events can enter that competition directly.
Kieser is hoping for a top-three finish at the provincial competition.
With the top two welders coming from Sturgeon Composite, it reinforces the school’s reputation as a welding juggernaut.
“I’m a welding instructor and I crank out welders,” said the school’s welding teacher Rick Zarowny.
He feels the program benefits by drawing students from the surrounding rural areas where youngsters gain hands-on experience in building and fixing. Zarowny estimates he’s produced more than 200 journeymen in his 21 years.
“I give them the same thing that first, second and third year apprenticeships would do, so they become good little welders,” he said.
The weekend’s competition was very challenging, he said.
“The ones that win have to be intelligent and they’ve got to be good welders. They’ve got to figure things out,” Zarowny said.
Another high achiever from the St. Albert area was Paul Kane student Zach Lozinski, who won silver in the carpentry category.
The Grade 12 student has worked with wood his whole life, mostly from helping his dad, who is a carpenter. Lozinski doesn’t even take carpentry at school but approached the shop teacher about a month ago asking to enter the competition. Lozinski felt he would have had gold if not for some small mistakes.
“It means that I didn’t try hard enough, that I didn’t work to the best of my abilities,” he said. “Gold would have been nice but I made it to [provincials] so I have a chance to pull gold instead of silver.”
Other local students who advanced to provincials are Travis Poseluzny of Paul Kane High School, who earned a bronze in culinary arts and Kolton Massey of Sturgeon Composite, who placed fourth in auto service.