July 22nd, 2024

City student claims gold at national skills competition

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on June 26, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

A local high school student represented Alberta at the Skills Canada National Competition in the cabinetmaking category last month and brought home a gold medal with him.
After winning gold in the 2024 South West Regional Skills competition hosted by Career Transitions earlier this year, Tate McGarry, a Grade 11 student from Chinook High School went on to win gold in the provincial competition while representing Team South West in the cabinetmaking category and became the representative for Alberta at the national level.
Judy Stolk-Ingram, executive director of Career Transitions, said McGarry was one of 32 students representing Team South West at the provincial level.
“At the provincial competition, seven of our students earned medals, one bronze, three silver and three gold. The three gold medalists earned a spot on Team Alberta and competed at the Nationals in Quebec City on May 30 and 31,” said Stolk-Ingram.
She explained that out of the three students that competed nationally, McGarry won gold in cabinetmaking and a Grade 12 student from Calvin Christian School in Monarch won silver in the Carpentry category.
“Tate is in Grade 11, so I’m hoping that he’ll compete again next year and maybe he can make the podium twice in a row,” said Stolk-Ingram.
When talking about the competition, McGarry told the Herald in a recent interview that the national level was definitely the most stressful.
“It was very stressful because there was very limited time and they wanted a lot done,” said McGarry.
He said for this competition he had to build a night stand in 12 hours, a job that would normally take him 20 hours to complete.
McGarry added that building things with his hands have been a passion of him for a while and it only intensified when his shop teacher Garth Johnson told him about the skills competition at the regional level.
“I really like building stuff, working with my hands, put stuff together and see it all come together at the end,” said McGarry.
He said prior to his first Skills competitions he has been building things for a while and he enjoyed it so much that he decided to get a job doing just that.
“Because if you love doing it, you may as well get paid to do it,” said McGarry.
McGarry became a Registered Apprentice Program (RAP) student and started working at Fuzo Woodworks Lethbridge last year, where he learned new skills and improved others.
Stolk-Ingram believes the Skills competition is something that is beneficial for students not only because of what they realize they are capable of accomplishing, but also because just by competing they can become more desirable for future employers.
“I think this is something that an employer would be very attractive to, imagine an employer being able to hire a cabinetmaker who’s proven himself to be the best one in all of Canada,” said Stolk-Ingram.
She added that even if kids do not win medals, the skills they developed by simply competing is something that will transfer well in their future careers.
“They’re putting themselves in situations where they are completing a project under strict guidelines, under tight conditions, those kinds of experiences translate completely to the world of work,” said Stolk-Ingram.
Frank Tucek, owner of Fuzo Woodworks Lethbridge and McGarry’s boss agrees with Stolk-Ingram on how great it is to have someone with skills recognized at a national level working with him.
“I think it’s great to have somebody that has passion for what we do in here, to find anybody with a passion for it is always a bonus,” said Tucek.
He said McGarry worked with him throughout all three competitions and based on the skills he has already seen reflected in McGarry’s work, he knew McGarry was going to go far.
“I actually used to judge the skills competition here for high schoolers, for about three years, so I had a pretty good idea what he can do and I was pretty confident in him winning the local competition, I had confidence in him winning the provincial competition and I hope for the best for the national, because I didn’t have experience with that one,” said Tucek.

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