CNA students sweep competition

5/21/2002 3:03:51 PM

Matthew Durnford puts the finishing touches on one of his baked treats.

By Tanya Alexander

May 21, 2002 - Students from College of the North Atlantic (CNA) and other institutions throughout Newfoundland and Labrador competed in the 5th Annual Provincial Skills Canada Skilled Trade and Technology Competitions held in St. John’s on Friday, May 3. College of the North Atlantic students took part in 14 competition categories and came away with 13 gold medals. They also achieved a medal shut out by taking gold, silver and bronze in nine of these categories.

In total there were 26 College of the North Atlantic medal winners from campuses in St. John’s (Ridge Road, Prince Philip Drive, and Seal Cove), Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Burin, Gander, Corner Brook, and Bay St. George.

Prince Philip Drive: Gold: Mark Butt – Automotive Service, Darryl Noseworthy – Welding, Paul Murphy – Culinary Arts, Fraser Rees – Autobody Repair, David Button – Information Technology (PC Network Support), Kristen Anthony – Information Technology (Software Applications), Robert Mahan – Electronics. Silver: George Kreuzburg – Autobody Repair. Bronze: Fred Bennett – Autobody Repair.

Ridge Road (Engineering Technology Centre): Gold: Michael Foley – Architectural Design, Wayne Haynes – Refrigeration. Silver: Stephen Walsh – Architectural Design, Dan Hatcher – Mechanical Design.

Seal Cove: Bronze: Andrew McCarthy – Culinary Arts.

Burin: Silver: Jordon Blake – Culinary Arts. Bronze: Robert Trickett – Mechanical Design.

Gander: Gold: Trent Ings – Aircraft Maintenance. Bronze: James Gidges – Information Technology (PC Network Support).

Corner Brook: Gold: George Chaisson – Electrical Wiring. Silver: Arild Heigleland – Information Technology (PC Network Support).

Bay St. George: Gold: Matthew Durnford – Baking. Bronze: Troy Cramm – Welding, Jamie Wells – Automotive Service.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay: Gold: Travis Green – Sheet Metal. Silver: Randy Freake – Welding, Paul Simmonds – Electrical Wiring.

According to Skills Canada, these skills competitions – regional, provincial, national, and international, instill a sense of accomplishment in the learner, and “…provide students and apprentices with a benchmark against which to judge their own standards of performance at school and in the workplace. They also encourage everyone to aim for excellence and thus help raise standards of vocational skills across the board.”

This healthy competition improves the expertise and confidence of individuals pursuing careers and benefits everyone, says Skills Canada.

George Anderson, Chair for the School of Industrial Trades at CNA, sits on the Provincial Board of Skills Canada. He feels that the level of talent in the province is well showcased, as well as the institutions that train them, such as College of the North Atlantic.

“The results of the Provincial Skills Competition speak volumes for the quality of training being delivered to students at this college,” says Anderson.

Pamela Walsh, President of College of the North Atlantic, agrees with Mr. Anderson, adding that the initiative shown by students is outstanding.

“The commitment and talent of these students is exceptional. I wish them luck in their efforts at the national level.”

Inside the Gold

Matthew Durnford was one competitor who took home the gold. He is a student of the Commercial Cooking program at the Bay St. George campus of College of the North Atlantic.

He really didn’t count on entering under the Baking category, but his instructor approached him to fill the space.

“He came to me and asked me to enter the Provincials in the Baking category – we didn’t have anyone to go.”

Matthew felt pretty comfortable entering the competition. Along with the fact that he has completed six baking modules out of the 32 chapters in the Cooking program, Matthew has practical experience in the field.

“I took an interest in baking at a young age… from there, I moved into cooking.”

He had worked in his hometown of Port aux Basques at St. Christopher’s Hotel off-and-on for three years. He then went to Tim Horton’s when they came to the town in 2000, and concentrated completely on baking. By September, he had had enough of seasonal work and went to Stephenville to take the Commercial Cooking program, with the intentions of qualifying for his Journeyman’s certificate. He received a nice surprise.

“Most students who finish the cooking program have to work 7,200 hours in the field to qualify for the advanced cooking course,” he said.

“I already accumulated my hours before I came here, so after I graduate in June, I can go right into Advanced Cooking.”

In the meantime, he is still reeling from the Provincial Skills Competition, and is looking forward to the National Skills Competition in Vancouver from May 29 – June 2. He is now working on the scope, which is the list of items he is required to bake during the event. He will prepare a variety of breads: French, Challa, Danish Pastry, Puff Pastry, and Pate a Choux Éclair. Also, he is required to bake four varieties of dinner rolls, and a fruit flan.

There are other aspects of this kind of competition that appeal to Matthew.

“I come from a small town… I feel proud to represent my school in a big place like St. John’s or Vancouver,” he says.

“And I get to meet people from all over, which is really nice.”

There’s also a pride in returning home with a medal, he says.

“When I came home from the Regional competition with a medal, my little boy was so excited.”

“He took the medal I showed him and wanted to present it to me. He said: The winner is… my Daddy!”

Those who qualify in the Nationals go on to Switzerland for the 37th World Skills Competition in June of 2003.