High school students showcase skills

Welding, small engines, electrical talent on display

High school students from Allen, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes took part in the District 9 FFA competition Thursday at the ABC Pelican Southwest Training Center.

The students competed in the welding, small engines and electrical categories.

Blaise Theard, ABC workforce development specialist, said the partnership with FFA was a “perfect fit” for the training center, which oversees career education courses in many of the rural high schools.

David Helveston, president and CEO of the Pelican Chapter of the Associated Builder and Contractors, spoke of the talent showcased during the competition.

“When you see the skills and techniques that these students bring to the competition, you’ll understand why the future of the construction industry is bright,” he said.

Gabriel Courville, a Kinder High School junior, competed in the electrical category. With plans to become an electrical engineer, Courville said the FFA’s opportunities have shown him that he was “meant to do electrical.”

Courville said his skills have improved since he began competing three years ago. An unexpected curve ball during last year’s competition motivated him to succeed this year.

“I watched a lot of videos,” he said. “I taught myself and took it upon myself to learn it.”

Aaron Rasberry, Jennings High School teacher, said many students, like Courville, treat FFA like “their sport.”

“They stay after school working on it and getting better,” he said.

FFA is no longer limited to agriculture careers, he said. The national program now has a more all-encompassing career education focus.

“Many of the skills they’re competing in today, they’re going to be competing in the job market for as well in the future,” Rasberry said.

The winners will compete at the Area 3 competition March 14 at the ABC Pelican Southwest Training Center.

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A local high school student competes in the welding portion of the ABC – District Craft Competition at ABC Pelican Southwest Training Center in Westlake, La., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Rick Hickman””

Sam Houston students, Owen Daigle and Beau Lynch, work on a small engine during the ABC – District Craft Competition at ABC Pelican Southwest Training Center in Westlake, La., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Rick Hickman