NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School had another successful year at the SkillsUSA state competition, bringing home six gold medals.
Seven McCann students can now say they are the best in the state: Nate Myers, Aubrey Tetlow, Joe Vigiard, Ethan Walden, Kenzie Oblisk, Stephanie Shatford, and Cecilia Marszalek all came out on top in their trades.
"I don't think they understand the magnitude of what they have accomplished and to be able to graduate and say that you are the best in the state in your field is a huge thing," Principal Justin Kratz said on Tuesday morning. "With your gold medals, you put that on your resume and you hold the keys to a lot of opportunities in the future."
Tetlow, from Williamstown, won gold in carpentry and said this was her second time participating in the event.
"It did come down to the little details because everyone was getting closer to the same point in the project and I was confident," she said. "Last year, I went for the experience and this year I wanted to place."
Tetlow said her competition was staged in a gymnasium and students were handed a blueprint and materials to build a three-walled structure in five hours.
"I m really big on math and if the math is not right, the project is wrong and I am really big on interpreting the blueprint correctly," she said. "It comes down to the little things. Making sure everything is flush and that everything is square."
She is the first McCann carpentry student to compete in states since 2004 and was one of the few women competing.
"Last year I was the only girl but this year I walked in and there were four others," she said. "I was very happy because I am very big on girls being in the trade and doing the same things the guys do."
Joe Vigiard and Ethan Walden, who are both from Adams, worked as a team and placed in 3D visualization and animation
"We had to make the whole map we had to design the whole environment," Walden said. "We did the lighting ... we added a lot of scenic stuff."
Vigiard said they had six hours to animate a scene of a Lego character robbing a bank. Walden focused on creating the environment while he focused on the characters.
"We divided the work. [Walden] is really good at doing the environmental stuff so I left him to do that and I mostly focused on designing characters and animating," Vigiard said.
Walden said they felt overly prepared and attributed their success to their education at McCann and practice. He added that a little confidence went a long way as well.
"Confidence," he said. "Tell yourself that you have to win. That is what we did."
Nate Myers, from Lanesborough, took a gold in sheet metal and said he also won a gold last year as a sophomore.
Myers said his competition was pretty straightforward and after being given a blueprint, he had to design some ductwork out of sheet metal.
"It comes down to following the blueprint and the details," he said. "There is a lot of math and it takes a lot of layout practice to do it."
Myers attributed his success to keeping a cool head.
"Staying calm and not worrying about what everyone else is doing," he said. "Being able to wrap my head around the layout."
Tetlow said the actual competition was a great experience and noted that although McCann is outnumbered by much larger vocational schools its students are always competitive.
"There are schools that show up with just massive amounts of students and they want you to cheer for your school when your name pops up on the big screen," she said. "You hear a school screaming and then you hear McCann and we try to yell but not as loud."
Tetlow said some schools bring upwards of 200 students. McCann typically brings between 30 or 40.
Kratz said despite McCann's size, it has a well-known reputation.
"You do hear people talking about our little school in Berkshire County," he said. "For such a small school we certainly have a presence at these events."
The principal said the entire McCann community is behind its competitors and celebrates SkillsUSA like it would any sports event.
The medal winners agree and said they are proud to represent McCann and hope to have the same success in the upcoming national competition.
"I get to prove my work to the world and I get to represent McCann in the process," Walden said.
"I enjoy representing my school and representing my shop," Tetlow said. "That is a big deal showing everyone what you are being taught and I think a lot of people underestimate trade schools and what you learn at them."
Oblisk and Shatford did not attend the small press conference but took gold medals in post-secondary competitions. Oblisk placed in dental assisting and Shatford placed in job interview.
Marszalek won gold in freshmen sticker design.
Silver medal winners were Abigail Wojcik in customer service and Dominique Crews in dental assisting.
Bronze medal winners were Logan Dommke and Aaron Williams for 3D visualization and animation;
Hope Blake for CNC turning specialist; Evan Knapp in industrial motor control; and Alaina Vigiard in technical computer applications.
Tetlow and Madison Harrington also received the Jannine Baker Legacy Award for community service efforts.