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Port High students clean up at skills competition

Oct 23, 2020
Up next.....Nationals in Moncton NB!

Port Colborne Leader
By Steve Henschel 
Skills instructors must be doing something right over at Port Colborne High School.

The school recently cleaned up at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition with three students taking home medals and one student finishing fourth, just shy of a medal standing.

Both Cam Lacelle and Robert Klonowski took home silvers in geographic information systems (GIS) as part of their Tourism and Hospitality High Skills Major Program. In their competition they were challenged to use such a system to plot data points on a map to determine the optimal placement of trail systems.

While Hunter Thomas fell just short in machining Grade 12 welding student Justin Nisbett showcased the six Canadian Welding Bureau tickets he has earned during his studies and took home a gold medal.

That means come June 4 to 8 he will be in Moncton, NB representing his school.

“I really enjoy working with my hands,” said Nisbett, who fell in love with welding as a career option after beginning to study it in Grade 10.

He said he’s excited to be heading off to nationals and he will be stepping up practicing in his spare time.

“Pretty much every night I stay after school,” said Nisbett.

Manufacturing teacher Vic Barker said his drive is evident with over 500 hours of practice time already under his belt. Nisbett said he plans to take a welding apprenticeship after finishing up Grade 12.

 Thomas has also found a career through the SHSM program. He did a co-op at EP Machining and he has already been offered an apprenticeship after graduation.

“It definitely helps you find what you want to do in life,” said Thomas, adding, “if it wasn’t for co-op I wouldn’t be sure.”

Barker said the school has become somewhat of a regular at national welding competitions. It’s the fifth time he will brining a student to that level, with three out of the last four national golds in welding being landed by a Port High student.

He noted however the real reward is seeing students finding jobs right out of high school. Much of that, he said, is owed to strong relationships built with employers through the co-op program.

“They are really good to us,” he said.


Steve Henschel is a reporter and award-winning photographer covering the communities of Welland, Pelham, Port Colborne and Wainfleet for Niagara This Week in addition to contributing to Niagara Life magazine. He has a passion for telling the stories of those living in south Niagara and hopes to one day take life seriously. Follow him on Twitter.