Career center students medal

NEW CUMBERLAND – Students from the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center brought home an unprecedented 10 medals from this year’s West Virginia state SkillsUSA competition.

In addition to gold medalist Melissa Cave, a senior from Oak Glen High School, there were three silver medalists and six bronze medalists. The statewide competition was held the weekend of March 23 at the Putnam County Career and Technical Center near Charleston.

“The success of these students … is a result of their dedication, intelligence and ability – and the high quality instruction they receive,” said Career Center Director Martin Hudek. “This team effort is exemplified in the camaraderie and support for each other that led to such an outstanding accomplishment.”

Cave, who is enrolled in the Health Science Technology Education program at the Career Center, took gold in the “First Aid/CPR Administration” part of the competition. She now advances to nationals in Kansas City, Mo., in June.

Taking silver in “Engineering Technology” was the team of Nick Fryer, Cody Tanley and Cory Martin, all Oak Glen seniors who are enrolled in the Electronics Technology program at the Career Center.

The silver team submitted a practical, hand-activated robotic arm, such as is used in robotic surgery, hazardous materials handling and other modern-day applications, Hudek said.

“Nick and his team worked tirelessly many, many days and hours, right up to the last minute, to get the arm to perform flawlessly as designed,” said instructor Ed Zawatski.

Fryer also wrote and simulated the computer program in order to control total function of the arm, Zawatski said.

The Career Center’s bronze winners were:

Oak Glen senior Jennifer Lybert – “Medical Math”;

Oak Glen senior Ashley Grotefend – “EKG Job Demonstration”;

Oak Glen senior Justin “Gus” Ludovici – “Commercial Baking”;

Oak Glen junior Hannah Gilchrist – “Electronics Technology”;

Weir High School junior Chris Sadler – “Mobile Electronics Installation”; and

Post-secondary student Aaron Hertzler – “Electronics Technology.”

Nineteen Hancock County students participated in this year’s competition. SkillsUSA is a non-profit organization whose competitions give students in the trade, technical and skilled service occupations a chance to demonstrate and be recognized for their proficiency.

Zawatski said Hancock County had its best showing ever at this year’s state competition.

“In all my years as lead adviser for this chapter of SkillsUSA, I have never had the pleasure of being with a better group of students,” he said. “All of Hancock County should be proud of them.”

(Huba can be contacted at