Hanford High School wood shop students competed and won in several college and career-oriented competitions, including SkillsUSA and the College and Career EXPO in Visalia.

“I feel validated. And I think it’s just, for us — I’ve been teaching for four and a half years — it’s validation that what we are doing is right and that the students can perform real world expectations,” Drew Hernandez, wood shop teacher, said.

On Feb. 4, during the SkillsUSA region two competition in Paso Robles, students were given a written test and a competitive build challenge, which lasted three hours. Students competed in the categories of introductory wood working and cabinet making.

Oscar Garcia-Medina won first for cabinet making, Kevin Zarate-Bautista won fourth for cabinet making and Travis Oliveira won second place for introductory woodworking.

The students will move on to the state finals April 20 in San Diego to compete against five other regions.

Garcia-Medina enjoyed the competition because it was a different experience for him.

"[For the competition], I had to build a cabinet with a drawer. It was challenging [...] but I got it done in about three hours, which led me to win first place,” he said. “After winning SkillsUSA, I felt more confident going to the career expo.”

At the College and Career EXPO on March 24, students competed in construction technology. A four-student team was tasked with layout, cutting and assembling a free-standing wall with scaled plans and hand tools.

Students were given materials and two hours to complete the structure. The free standing walls were judged by city inspectors.

Hanford High School wood shop students won first place. These students included Garcia-Medina, Jose Gomez-Martinez, Blaine Oliveira and Kevin Zarate-Bautista.

“It was fun. We got there and felt a little outdone by everyone else, but we pulled it together and ended up winning first,” Oliveira said. “It wasn’t very hard. We laid out everything and then just put it all together. We were pretty prepared for it.”

According to its website, SkillsUSA remains “a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel,” specifically in a career and technology based education.

Similarly, the College and Career EXPO “provides students the opportunity to compete in college and career oriented competitions, spend some time on a college campus, and be recognized for achievements in their chosen field of study.”

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