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'It was the best moment in my life so far': UTES brings home gold

Avon Maitland District School Board sent five teams to Skills Ontario competition
Gold Medal Team, from left to right, teacher Cheryl Hopkins, Evelyn Ward, teacher Jody Horne, Porter Harbinson, Sam Dennis and Edwin Emmerson.

Upper Thames Elementary School captured the gold medal in the Grade 4-6 character animation division of the Skills Ontario competition held in Toronto.

“I was super excited to be a part of this because it was a new experience for me," said Grade 4 student Porter Harbinson in a news release. "I feel very honoured and grateful to have had the opportunity to go to this event. I think we did very well because we worked so well together. As for winning… tt was the best feeling ever. It was the best moment in my life so far!”

Upper Thames Elementary also had a team in the Grade 4-6 LEGO robotics competition.

Teachers Cheryl Hopkins and Jody Horne prepared the students throughout the school year for the competition. They hosted clubs at lunch to support any student who wanted to learn about robotics and character animation and then closer to the competition date the teams were chosen.

For the first time, Avon Maitland District School Board sent five elementary teams to compete in various events on May 1 at the Toronto Congress Centre. 

“I was so impressed with the drive and dedication students gave to the many lunch and nutrition breaks they gave up to develop their technological, collaboration, communication, and problem solving skills," Hopkins added. "All of the teams worked extremely hard at the competition. There were so many positive comments from students and parents that I can say without a doubt, this competition has created a real buzz in our school and we look forward to another opportunity next year”, said Hopkins.

The students who competed in the technology category had to build a hydraulic crane that picked up batteries and deposited them eight inches ahead in copper pipes. The students had to sketch their prototype and then, using the materials provided, build the prototype.

Students who competed in the VEX Robotics competition had to bring a robot and program it to perform various tasks.

“Going to the Skills Ontario competition in Toronto was a great opportunity to learn about robotics and it was a good test of perseverance since things didn’t always go the way we wanted," said South Huron District High School's Ella Consitt, a Grade 8 student. "It was fun to meet new people and to see the cool creations that other groups made.”

Jodi Froud, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program coordinator, said she was proud of all of the students and teachers from AMDSB who participated.

“These teachers have been working so hard to provide their students with an extension of the curriculum through the Skills Ontario competition. All of the teams were able to extend their learning, work together as a team and challenge themselves throughout this process. The Skills Ontario competition allows students to meet others with similar interests and is an amazing opportunity that showcases many skilled trades and post-secondary opportunities through the exhibition and competitions.”