A Port Colborne High School student welded his way to his second consecutive gold medal at Skills Canada last week in Saskatchewan.
Eli Schonewille made his school and community proud representing Ontario at the May 28-29 competition in Saskatoon. One student from each of nine participating provinces advanced to the competition, and Schonewille placed first among the group.
The competition consisted of the completion of two projects, one each day. Students were graded on them, each being worth 50% of their final grade.
Grades are not released, just the top three are ranked, and Schonewille landed at the top of the podium.
He said he was happy to win gold again and that it was a nice way to finish high school. Graduating this year, Schonewille hopes to be a millwright or do a welding apprenticeship.
The Skills Canada National Competition is a national trade and technology competition for students and apprentices. According to the website, more than 500 students from across the country participated in more than 40 skilled trade and technology competitions.
Schonewille said he didn’t think much about pursuing a career in welding before high school, but after trying it he said he changed his mind.
“I did a small project and just sort of got into it,” said Schonewille.
His teacher, Vic Barker, described him as “strong work ethic, coachable, outstanding problem-solving skills.”
“He’s ready to go to work, that’s for sure,” Barker said.
Barker’s students have a strong reputation at both Skills Ontario and Skills Canada, having participated in the competitions for the last five years. Barker said Port High students have made it to the Canada-wide competition four out of the five years, and brought home gold three times.
Through his courses the students can do certification tests to get welding tickets, which certifies them to do certain welds on sites and further preparing them for the workforce.