Students show skills in contest Cake-decorating to plumbing tested

March 28, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Amber Paugh had practiced on almost 10 cakes, giving them to friends and family, to prepare for the cake-decorating contest at yesterday's technical skill competition at the Howard County School of Technology.

Then she got a look at the competition.

"They've been doing it for three years, and I've been doing it for four months," Amber said, sitting on a bench next to her box

filled with cake-decorating materials.

The 17-year-old Southern Garrett High School student had high hopes -- and the jitters -- as did more than 400 other vocational-technical students from around the state who participated in the various contests.

The Maryland chapter of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America sponsored the all-day trade event. Winners advance to the United States Skill Olympics, in June in Louisville, Ky., and winners of that round go on to the international competition in Australia.

Students also competed yesterday at Catonsville Community College and the Baltimore International Culinary College.

The competitions tested a wide range of skills, including graphics communication, cosmetology, commercial baking, technical drafting, advertising design, brick masonry and residential plumbing.

Students had won top honors at their schools as well as in regional competition to reach yesterday's event, whose winners were to be announced last night.

"I was very nervous," said 17-year-old Tasha Fisher, from South Hagerstown High School, who competed in the cake-decorating contest. "The hardest part was deciding how to decorate my cakes."

She chose to decorate an 8-inch round cake with blue icing and blue baby shoes, with the word "Congratulations" on it.

Others decorated with ornate blue and red roses and flowery borders. One student decorated a "Happy Sweet 16" cake with a picture of a telephone, while another decorated a "Happy Halloween" cake in orange-

and-black frosting with ghouls and pumpkins.

The cosmetology competition, in which 17 students from 13 high schools vied to be the top hair stylist, brought disappointment for some.

Models who got bad cuts stared at themselves in the mirror, rubbing their foreheads.

Students were judged on how well they cut, shaped, razored and layered hair, as well as how well they tinted, relaxed and permed it.

About five students in a classroom hunched over sewing machines, concentrating on finishing short-sleeved shirts and matching skirts in the commercial sewing competition.

Earlier, the students had finished cropped jackets, cut at the waist and decorated with ribbons, gold hearts and white buttons. The students made the jackets at their schools, to be judged at yesterday's event by two professional tailors from the Eldersburg-based London Fog company.

The judges eyed everything from topstitch to seams to thread color. They were impressed.

"I think the work is pretty good," said Micheline Stambaugh, a three-time judge. "Sewing's not easy."

Some students said they prayed all night long and studied days to prepare.

Eric Cotherman, 15, practiced for hours for the sheet metal contest. He had to take a written test and create a fitting for air ducts.

Competition aside, he hopes to take over his father's air-conditioning and heating business when he graduates.

Matt Oshields, an 18-year-old who competed in the air-conditioning repair contest, tested his trouble-shooting skills, checking wiring and pressure to determine whether the system had enough Freon. The Charles County Vocational Center student hopes to go into the air-conditioning business.

"I like working with my hands," he said. "It's a good field to get into if you want to make good money and enjoy what you're


Not all students who came to the all-day event competed.

Sara Bargy, a 16-year-old at Southern Garrett High School in Oakland, came to eye the talent. She hopes to enter next year.

"It's exciting," she said. "There are so many different areas to compete in, like nursing and brick masonry."

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