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Sue Bush
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Purpose, Pride, Passion: McCann Students Taking Golden Ambitions To National Event

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, May 03, 2006

SkillsUSA state competition medalists and Charles H. McCann Technical High School students Rebecca Oleson and Nichole Morandi
North Adams - They were focused on purpose, they performed with passion and at the end of an April 27-29 SkillsUSA state competition, Charles H, McCann Technical High School students felt the pride of winning 15 gold, 5 silver, and 11 bronze medals.

High school student Dylan Pheneuf was also elected as a SkillsUSA state officer. The event was held at the Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School in Marlboro, Mass..

A McCann Medal Sweep

AMT category silver medalist Max LaCasse and gold medalists Justin Burdick, Collin Murdock, and Nathan Pikula
Nine students who comprised three specific teams swept an automated manufacturing technology category and earned gold, silver, and bronze medals.

"We owned [AMT]," said Max LaCasse, a computer assisted drafting student who, accompanied by machine technology students Damien McCarthy and David Senecal, captured silver during the category sweep.

Nathan Pikula and Collin Murdock, of the machine technology program and CAD student Justin Burdick earned AMT gold, and CAD student Erica Boucher, and machine technology students Justin Wirtes and Nick St. Jacques brought home the bronze.

Gold medalists are expected to compete during a June 19-23 national SkillsUSA event in Kansas City, Missouri, and Pikula has his eye on yet another prize.

"I want to win gold," he said during a May 2 interview held at the school.

LaCasse said that he is thinking ahead to next year's competition, which will begin with a school-wide event, and progress to district, state, and national levels of competition.

"I'm after gold," he said. "I was close this time and I won't let it slip next time."

Double Gold For TQM

Two Total Quality Management teams brought gold medals back to the school. TQM team member Kolin Hurlbut won a TQM silver medal at nationals in 2005 and is hoping for gold this year.

"[The state event] helped us get ready for nationals," he said. "We gotta get gold. Last year, we missed the gold by .002 . We are confident this year."

Sara Grimaldi and Jennifer Sumy Saldo were part of a gold medal TQM team.

"We're excited about nationals," said Sumy Saldo. "I'm not going to think that we can't get gold, I going to think that we can."

"It would be awesome to get gold, " said Grimaldi.

2006 "Firsts"

There were numerous "firsts" at this year's event; 2006 marked the first year of a competitive Web design event and the first year of state competition for junior Rebecca Oleson. She was one of two females who competed against several male students, and the only female to medal. Oleson and teammate Alex Lacey earned a bronze medal during the competition.

"I was really excited," she said. "I didn't think I'd get anything at all. It was my first time going and I didn't know what to expect. When they announced my name [as a medalist] it took a minute for it to register. I was like 'oh, my gosh, that's me!' I'd like to get gold next year. I'd like to go to nationals."

AMT bronze medalists Nick St. Jacques and Justin Wirtes; McCann students swept the medals during the AMT competition.

Nichole Morandi was one of two female students who competed against 10 male students during a cabinetry competition. Morandi captured a silver medal. This was her first year of state level competition and the first year that a McCann student competed during a cabinetry event.

She was very close to winning gold, she said, and added that she is very proud to have earned a silver medal.

"It was so awesome to be a girl competing with all these guys and get a silver medal during the first year that McCann took part in cabinetry," she said.

Freshman Eric Euchler and sophomore Nicholas Daniels earned gold at a first-time, invitation-only state event that focused on 3-D visualization and animation. Three additional teams competed during the event, Euchler and Daniels said.

The Euchler/Daniels team were provided a toy figure and challenged to create a three dimensional rendering of the figure in two poses.

Euchler and Daniels prepared diligently for the event, and their efforts paid off; Daniels had, through a lucky coincidence, worked on something very similar to the event challenge earlier during the school year, he said.

"[The competition] was much simpler than we thought it would be," Daniels said.

Gold medalists Eric Euchler and Nicholas Daniels earned the medal at an invitation-only event.
"It didn't seem very hard and we really enjoyed it as we were doing it," said Euchler.

Teamworks Works

A Teamworks challenge involved building a bathroom and students Nick Richards, Nathan O'Hearn, Mark Therrien and Craig Hartman earned a bronze medal. The event requires a mason and a plumber, two programs not taught at the high school. Hartman and Therrien learned the necessary skills in about two weeks time so that they could compete during the event.

"I thought we did pretty well," Therrien said. "We don't have a shop for plumbing or masonry, so we have to learn it fast."

O'Hearn noted that the extra effort to learn new skills put forth by Therrien and Hartman made them "a team within a team."

The construction project occurred over a two-day span, which is longer than the other events.

Teamworks bronze medalists Nathan O'Hearn, Nick Richards, Craig Hartman and Mark Therrien

"I Am Always Proud Of McCann"

Senior Aubry Frost earned a technical computer application silver medal. In 2005, she earned a gold medal at states during an office computer applications challenge; the technical computer event was "a lot more involved," Frost said.

And her medal was very hard-won; a computer malfunction caused about half of Frost's completed work to be lost mid-way through the timed event. She was given some extra time to complete the challenge but had to start all over again, she said.

Frost agreed that her performance exemplifies "success under pressure."

She is proud of each and every McCann team and the performance at the state event, she said.

"I'm really excited for the teams and I'm always proud of McCann school. Most of the schools at states have a lot of different shops and we have nine, yet we take away most of the medals. I am so proud to be a McCann graduate."

Complete list of 2006 SkillsUSA Massachusetts State Competition Winners:


Automated Manufacturing Technology
Justin Burdick
Collin Murdock
Nathan Pikula

Adam Bethoney
Nicolette Chandler
Emmy Forde
Kolin Hurlbut

Job Interview-Post Secondary
Audrey LeGrande

Carissa Briggs
Sara Grimaldi
Jennifer Sumy Saldo
Jeanna Tinney

3-D Visualization and Animation
Nicholas Daniels
Eric Euchler


Automated Manufacturing Technology
Max LaCasse
Damien McCarthy
David Senecal

Nichole Morandi

Technical Computer Applications
Aubry Frost


Automated Manufacturing Technology
Erica Boucher
Nick St. Jacques
Justin Wirtes

Computer Maintenance Technology
Ryan O'Hearn

Craig Hartman
Nathan O'Hearn
Nick Richards
Mark Therrien

Technical Computer Application
Michael Lawson

Web Design
Rebecca Oleson
Alex Lacey

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 802-823-9367.
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