Out by the front door, in the chilly sunshine, two boys work on the video they are getting ready to enter into competition. One operates the camera, one starts a monologue, falters and starts again.
Inside MacDonald Junior High is filled with kids, enthusiastic, excited and racing about from one area to another.
The gymnasium is playing host to teams setting up robotic Lego competition entries.
The air and the halls are charged with energy and spirited chatter.
About 370 junior high students pitted their skills against each other at the 15th Annual Skills Canada Intermediate Challenge and F.I.R.S.T Lego League Robotics Competition Saturday.
Students converged upon MacDonald Drive Junior High in St. John’s to compete in 17 different trade, technology and employability competition areas.
“We’re the only province in the country who runs our competitions at this level,” said Christine Greene, vice-president of SkillsCanada NL.
“The winners of these (17) competitions will go on to compete in the provincials, which happen later on in the spring. Sometimes these young students excel so much at this event that they even beat the high school students at the provincials. And then — here’s the kicker — they go on to the nationals.
“At the national level, year after year, we see our intermediate students excel so much that they even place at the bronze, silver or gold at the national level, and bring those medals home to Newfoundland and Labrador,” Greene said.
The competition covered such areas as TV/video production, information technology, F.I.R.S.T Lego League Robotics, the Junior Chef Challenge and the Junior Hairstyling Challenge and included public speaking and computer animation.
Following the competition, an awards ceremony took place during which gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to top winners. A list of winners was not available as of deadline, but should be available at www.skilscanada-nfld.com in the near future.
The gold medal winners in most competition areas Saturday will be invited to the Skills Canada Provincial Competition in March 2018. There they will compete against high school students for the opportunity to represent the province at the 24th Annual Skills Canada National Competition in June 2018 in Edmonton, Alta.
Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador (SCNL) has partnered with the F.I.R.S.T Lego League (FLL) since 2002 to offer a massive exhibition of talents in the field of robotics among the province’s intermediate students to help establish an appreciation for creativity and innovation, emerging from the experience of technology development through science.
“Throughout its 15-year history, the Skills Canada Intermediate Challenge has demonstrated its value as an ideal opportunity to expose young people to careers in skilled trades and technologies,” said Craig White, president of Skills Canada NL. “In the last five years alone, over half of all winners who progressed to the Skills Canada Provincial Competition won medals over students several years their senior.
“ Skills Canada Intermediate Challenge provides youth with a large range of options to inform their decisions on course selection and career planning before they even enter high school,” White said.
Skills Canada NL was established in 1998 as part of an effort to maintain Canada’s international competitiveness amidst a declining Canadian labour force. It receives funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, the province and Vale.