Some local students have some new hardware to show off following the annual Skills Olympics. More than 400 juniors and seniors put their vocational talents to the test and learned what they might want to make their career.
Some of these students said if they never had hands-on training, they wouldn't have known how much they love something. And, they got to experience it all Friday, from doing the job, to dressing the part.
It was more than a catwalk the students took strides down. Call it a job path for the Kern High School District students, wearing the clothes they see themselves in, in their future careers, many right out of school.
"We started welding and I fell in love with it ever since," said North High School senior Garrett Stane.
"They are more prepared than their counterparts because they've had a semester to a year in training," explained KHSD Regional Occupational Principal, Sandy Banducci.
Students put that training to the test at the annual Skills Olympics at the district's Regional Occupational Center. There were 17 industry sectors represented, everything from auto body repair, to fashion, and animal care. Each category was judged by professionals and those with the best skills were awarded.
Golden Valley senior, Ulises Torres's group won gold for firefighting.
"It opened my eyes to the future because I was still undecided. I don't know what I want to be or what not, but now I do because I want to be a firefighter now," said Torres.
From the front lines to fashion. Backstage, Joanna Palomares found out firsthand the stresses of organizing a runway show, thanks to the Occupational Center.
"I love fashion now," said Palomares. "At first, I really didn't want to get into it. I wanted to do something else, but now that I got into it and I'm into it, I really love it."
"We have lots of returning students who come back and visit us on a regular basis and say this was the best opportunity that I ever had. All of them say this is the best training. I'm ready for the job market," said Banducci.
The Regional Occupation Center has been in existence since 1985 and this is the 16th year of the competition. There are about 850 students on that campus.