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SkillsUSA showcases students’ technical talents

By Lee Reinsch

GREEN BAY – Whether their projects began with a pile of wire, a decades-old slab of wood, or a stack of metal washers, students proved their mettle when it comes to technical skills.

More than 100 students from about 15 area schools gathered Dec. 5 at the SkillsUSA showcase and competition held at Preble High School in Green Bay.

Students showed off their skills in welding, cabinetry, woodworking, robotics, CNC machining, problem solving and more.

Leland Nurczyk, a senior at Bonduel High School, won first place in the welding sculpture category with his rendition of Cthulhu, a mythical creature from the short story “The Call of the Cthulhu,” by H.P. Lovecraft.

He said the urge to go beyond welding straight lines and T-joints in his first-year welding class spurred him to seek a more creative expression of his talent.

“I got bored in welding class,” Nurczyk said. “I like horror, and the horror behind this story, the calling to be in a cult, intrigued me.”

Nurczyk said he has long wanted to be a blacksmith, another specialty requiring adroitness with high heat.

He said he decided to take a foray into welding for two reasons.

“You can make a lot of money, and it’s in demand,” Nurczyk said.

He said he hopes to get into the metal fabrication and welding program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

Katelynn Tordeur’s mid-century modern style table took first place in the woodworking display division at the SkillsUSA competition.

Tordeur, a senior at Green Bay Southwest, used a three-inch thick disk of oak a family friend cut down 20 years ago for the table top.

The disk, or tree cookie, had been taking up space at her house and awaiting a purpose ever since.

She said her civil engineering and architecture class was challenged to build a house (with computer-aided design software) in any style they wished.

“I chose mid-century modern and when it came to designing, I thought, ‘What if I could make a real piece of furniture to go with it?’” she said.

So Tordeur procured some sleek, metal hairpin legs and went to work.

Her love of woodworking spans almost half her life.

Her dad got her into it eight years ago, when she was in sixth grade.

After that, she took shop classes.

“The passion has risen ever since,” she said.

Kelly Quick’s candy dish was inspired by a flower.

“It’s my first real welding project – not too bad for a freshman,” the Preble student said.

The candy dish, made of metal washers welded together, placed third in the welding sculpture category.

Quick said she thought it would be an easy project for the SkillsUSA competition, but was soon liberated of that notion.

She said she’s encouraged by the results and plans to take Metals II after finishing Metals I and then progress into the welding program.

She plans to attend NWTC or Universal Technical Institute in Arizona after high school.

In the live-skill cabinetry challenge, Kylie Quandt used a Kreg Foreman to drill pocket holes into the back of what would become a hanging drill caddy.

“My dream is to be some kind of engineer,” Quandt, a sophomore from Bonduel, said.

Her tech ed class introduced her to woodworking at the start of the school year.

“Not many girls were taking it, and that was my thought, too, but then I realized I could do it – I can do anything I want,” she said.

Quandt said the past three months have been “the funnest time I’ve ever had.”

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