New Castle News

January 19, 2013

Photo Gallery, Story: Local students put skills on display at competition

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — In just three hours, team building groups representing five schools each completed a functioning bathroom.

A third of the way into the project, the four students from the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center — competing in the area of team work — already had the floor framing built for the 4-by-8-foot structure.

“They’re running a little ahead of the schedule,” said Anthony Perrotta, construction trades instructor at the center, amid sounds of hammers, sanders, circular saws and jigsaws in one of the shops at the New Castle School of Trades on Pulaski Road.

When completed, the students had erected the walls, and installed electrical components, plumbing, a set of steps, main sewer disposal and a roughed-in toilet flange, Perrotta pointed out.

The event — the Northwest Regional SkillsUSA competition, taking place in New Castle this year — brought together students to present what they had learned in shops.

Friday’s event was the district competition. Those winning here advance to state contests with a chance to compete at the national level.

In addition to the school of trades, the venue also included Butler County Community College at Lawrence Crossing, the Villa Banquet Center and the career and technical center.

More than 400 students, advisers and judges from 13 schools in Pennsylvania Western Region District 10 took part.

Perrotta’s group consisted of Lucas Buck, Richard Duffy, Charles Habib and Shaye Shaffer.

“The students get to showcase the skills they’ve learned, which include carpentry, residential electric, residential plumbing and masonry,” he said. “These are the best of the best.”

Down the hall, another group was in firefighting uniform and gas masks and used ladders and hoses to crawl into a simulated smoky building.

In the cosmetology area, students were required to do a hair cut and style an evening coif, said Jodi Cepro, cosmetology instructor, who was surrounded by an arsenal of scissors, curling irons and styling products.

Cepro said other students were competing at manicures and pedicures, nail designs and skin care, adding that Brenna Gilkey represented Lawrence County Career and Technical Center in cosmetology.

Andy Tommelleo, the center’s director, was enthused about showing the business, family and educational community how vital career and technical instruction is.

“It allows everyone to know more about what our kids are doing. We’re proud of all the kids competing. It takes courage and confidence.”

Other shops represented from the local school were building, automotive, computer, culinary arts, medical, secretarial and manufacturing.

Students from various schools also competed in tasks such as cabinet making, advertising design, commercial baking, diesel equipment technology and welding.

“This is an exciting opportunity for students and teachers to come to Lawrence County,” Tommelleo explained. “We’re creating a state atmosphere at a district level site.

“And I’m thrilled and grateful to the entire school of trades for its generosity and to all the Lawrence County business and industry supporters.”