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Sturgeon Composite graphic artist wins gold at Skills

Sweeney to compete for Team Alberta at nationals
GOLDEN GIRLS — Sturgeon Composite students Alyssa House (left) and Bethany Sweeney (right) took gold at the 2024 Skills Canada Alberta provincial competition held May 8-9 in Edmonton. Sweeney will compete in the national Skills competition later this month. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

A Sturgeon Composite graphic designer will join Team Alberta later this month to test her skills against some of Canada’s best at a national Skills competition.

Sturgeon Composite Grade 12 student Bethany Sweeney won gold in the graphic design event at the 2024 Skills Canada Alberta provincial competition held May 8-9 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. She was one of about 800 high school and post-secondary students from across the province who competed in 45 trades-related areas, such as autobody repair, fashion technology, and network systems administration.

Sturgeon Composite brought home two gold and two bronze medals from provincials this year, said school Skills co-ordinator Lucas Case. This was also the third time in recent memory that one of the school’s students had won a spot at nationals.

Hair and graphics

Sturgeon Composite Grade 11 student Alyssa House took the gold in the junior hairstyling competition. Her event saw her and about 25 others compete to see who could produce the most creative mix of ropes, knots, twists, and braids with a mannequin’s hair in 1.5 hours.

House said she got into hairstyling and braiding a few years ago by practicing on her own hair — she liked how wavy the braids made her hair after they were undone. Her winning hairstyle, which was inspired by a picture she saw online, featured multiple ropes of hair that curled around the head from front to back, meeting in a bejewelled ball at the back.

“It is pretty tight,” she said of the style’s many, many ropes, and she wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be to actually wear.

“I would never wear this.”

House said she was surprised to learn she had taken the gold at provincials, and wasn’t sure if she would compete in Skills again. Participating in it had definitely helped her get better at doing her hair.

Sweeney said she got into graphic design three years ago through her passion for art.

“Whenever I start designing something, I have no idea how it’s going to look at the end, so I really like it when it starts coming together and I can see how it’s going to end up looking,” she said.

Sweeney said her event saw her and about 16 others compete to see who could create the best logos, pamphlets, and other digital designs for a hypothetical Alberta Comic-Con and the Skills Canada Alberta provincial competition over two days.

“It was really loud in there,” she said of the competition area, as there were no sound barriers separating them from other, noisier events, and hundreds of people in the convention centre.

Sweeney said she went with a comic-inspired theme for the Alberta Comic-Con exercise, complete with starburst-shaped text bubbles and a pamphlet laid out like a comic book.

Sweeney said she was one of the first competitors to get her medal at the May 9 awards ceremony, and got to observe the rest of it from the front-row seats reserved for Team Alberta.

“I was a little bit overwhelmed by it all.”

Nationals in Quebec

The Skills Canada national competition will see Sweeney and some 500 other students compete in 40-odd trades-related fields this May 30-31 at the ExpoCité complex in Quebec City, Quebec. Sweeney said she was studying the rules and practicing on nights and weekends to prepare.

“I don’t know if I necessarily expect gold again, but I think I can hold my own,” she said.

Sturgeon Composite students Ava MacSween and Alita Pawlik took bronze in the intermediate and senior hairstyling events at provincials, respectively.

Visit for full results of the 2024 provincials.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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