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Showcasing our skills at Niagara College

Oct 23, 2020
33 Students represent PCHS at Skills Competition

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More than 300 high school students stepped outside the classroom and put their abilities to use in industry-standard environments Wednesday for District School Board of Niagara's annual skills competition.

At Niagara College's Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses, participants showcased their expertise in such fields as automotive servicing, baking, construction, graphic design, hairstyling and welding.

There were 26 challenges throughout the day, a precursor to provincial and national competitions for students who go on to the next level.


Mitch Black, a Grade 11 Port Colborne High School student who placed in the top five in last year's Ontario finals, said working on vehicles is something he started to learn at an early age at home, a hobby he hopes will become a career.


He said displaying his mechanical talents at the college is rewarding and also an opportunity to gain more experience.

"We get to show what we can do with our hands, and not just on a piece of paper," said Black.

Zac Komdeur, a Grade 10 Port High student, also said tinkering with vehicles has been a part of his family life for a long time, but his passion for automotive servicing has become stronger through his classes.

"I didn't really see it as a career until I got into high school," he said.

Many of the students taking part in the challenges are enrolled in the board's specialist high skills major program and Ontario youth apprenticeship program.

Roy Smith, DSBN technology and high skills major consultant, called the annual day at both college campuses a "fantastic opportunity for the students," allowing them to get experience with top-of-the-line tools of their trades.

"This is the equipment they are going to be seeing."

The school board has been holding skills competitions for 21 years and has partnered with the college for the past five.

Jeff Murrell, associate dean for Niagara College's school of trades and head of apprenticeship for the media, trades and technology division, said he, staff and faculty involved are thrilled to host the challenges.


With advancements in technology being made so often, keeping the college's expertise up to date is paramount.

"For some of these trades, they're transitioning so rapidly," he said.

In the automotive industry, vehicles are coming with many news bells and whistles through advanced manufacturing. Coding, computer systems and other gadgets are becoming more prominent at a swift rate.

"Gone is the 1940s and '50s image of a tradesperson covered in grease and oil," he said.

Challenge winners will be recognized on April 17 at Club Italia in Niagara Falls.

Gold medalists will represent DSBN at the provincial challenge in Toronto on May 7 and 8.

Gold medalists at the provincial level will become part of Team Ontario and advance to the national finals in Halifax, N.S., May 27 to 31.

Here is who represented Port Colborne High:




Zack Komdeur

Mitch Black

Rod Scott


Sage Viozzi

Sheridan Sneek


Adam Wagner

Sterling Schaub


Liam MacKenzie


Anandi Dajka

Ashton Jeffs

Cory Ferri

Geoffery Johnson

Hannah Walker

Aiden Hawkins


MacKenzie Furry

Riley Cornish


Josh Bennett


Payton Dickie

Morgan Wiatt


Mason Klauck

Dan Boucock


Adam Wagner

Chase Reker

Matt Bowers


Emily Klonowski

Caitlynn Van Kralingen

Riley Simpson

Nick O’Connor


Aaron Gelka

Nick Peppas

Joel Nesbitt

Kaleb Davis

Myles Jackson