From left, Andrea Olds, Emilee Pontell, Payton Johnson and Alexis Pyrchalla, representing Rhinelander High School, race to match business logos to their respective companies during hands-on Business Jeopardy competition Thursday, April 18, 2019 at Nicolet College.
4/20/2019 7:30:00 AM Nicolet Competition Day gives area high school students a chance to shine
High school students have many opportunities to test themselves - on the hardwood, gridiron, pitch, pool among others - but crime scene investigation and cupcake competition takes place only once a year.
Nearly 200 students from 13 area high schools and the Blackwell Job Corp gathered at Nicolet College's Rhinelander campus Thursday for Competition Day, which tests students in such diverse competitions as cupcake wars, crime scene investigation, health occupations jeopardy, beauty behind the madness, automotive skills, build a computer, hands-on business Jeopardy and still life drawing.
The event started small, with the college hoping to showcase its welding program by hosting a high school competition, but now encompasses over 10 academic areas.
Angeline von Neupert, career coach at Nicolet, acknowledged how much the annual competition of the area schools means, not only to test their knowledge over multiple areas but also as a way to showcase how Nicolet can assist them in obtaining training in those areas.
"The original, I'd say, was 10 years ago and it has changed over those 10 years to encompass many (programs), not just one," von Neupert said. "We have 10 competition areas total now and 187 students took part in both the preliminaries and today."
"At this point now, each program area features its education and also the careers that it leads to," she added. "So each program choses their own competition or creates the competition based on that education subject."
While the event offers students a sneak peak at a potential occupation, the competition doesn't necessarily have to lead to a career, von Neupert added.
"This year, one of our new programs is still life drawing, which is interesting for those interested in going to a four-year school or interested in a bachelor's (degree)," she said. "It features in our college transfer plan. But then we have our programs like public safety challenge, which features more locally diverse careers, including fire education and prevention. Public safety also includes emergency medicine work or EMT or paramedic careers."
Since taking over the Competition Day a few years ago, her personal goal has been to add two program areas each year, she added.
"That is how we have been able to feature new programs and kind of continue as we go," von Neupert said. "So welding has been here the longest, auto joined next and the next year we added a few. So each year we add a couple more."
Both of the program areas that use a Jeopardy format have seen the sophistication grow tremendously over the years.
"It's hands-on activities as well as educational, different things where they use various different forms of media," von Neupert said. "They use various computer screens and whatnot to do it."
Community support has been critical to the growth of Competition Day, she added.
"We could not do this without the support of our community," von Neupert said. "Our prizes are donated by various student clubs and, various founders and area employers. We have thousands of dollars in prizes for all of our competitors. And I think that is very important to acknowledge, that this truly is supported by the community."
While some program areas produce study guides to help the students prepare for Competition Day, that isn't possible with other areas, she noted.
"Others it's skill-based; you either have the skill or you don't," von Neupert said. "Or you've done it in class, such as welding. Our welding students have been welding all year in school with their high school instructors and learning. So it really depends on that area."
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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