On Tuesday, March 7, eighth graders from nine schools in Shelby County competed in the Ninja Madness Championships at the Upper Valley Vocational Center.
On Tuesday, 54 eighth-graders from Anna, Botkins, Fairlawn, Fort Loramie, Holy Angels, Houston, Jackson Center, Russia, and Sidney Middle School competed. Last but not least, the Ninja Skilled Trades Competition season ends with the Ninja Madness Finals.
More than 800 kids from Shelby County participated in the first round of events that began in November 2022. Each county sent its top three male and female Ninja competitors from its own Ninja Madness Finals competition.
The Ninja Skilled Trades Challenge is an event sponsored by the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County, Area Energy & Electric Inc., Ferguson Construction Company, Slagel Mechanical Contractors, and the Upper Valley Career Center that gives eighth-graders in Shelby County the opportunity to gain experience with construction and other skilled trades tools.
Greg Dickman, the HR coordinator for Slagel Mechanical Contractors, said-
“They (Slagel Mechanical) were sponsoring this before I got started. I mean, Slagel’s been a sponsor for the Ninja course for the last five or six year. Slagel’s very active with the Workforce Partnership.”
“We see it as a great opportunity to introduce kids to skilled trades, especially at a young age. It’s just an opportunity for them to learn some of the different job opportunities that are out there after graduation.”
Workforce Partnership Director Deb McDermott said-
“This is the best of the best coming here today. This is meant to, one, expose the students to skilled trades and tools, because lots of the kids have never touched a drill. And then with the career center here, it’s sort of our recruitment.”
“Like, if kids find that their interested in this, that there’s a pathway to a lot of these types of careers at the Upper Valley Career Center, and these are companies (the sponsors) that obviously recruit those types of employees.”
McDermott claims that this is the first year that the event has been attended by more than a handful of parents.
“We’ve started small and it’s growing,” said McDermott. “It’s kind of exciting to see the parents, like, catching on.”
Students competed against one another in a head-to-head race to execute six trade-related tasks, including utilizing an impact drill, measuring a block of wood, hammering in a nail, using a screwdriver, and assembling PVC piping.
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The competition was set up like a bracket, with contestants being knocked out individually until only the swiftest and most successful remained.
First prize goes to Samuel Philpot of Russia and Faith Long of Sidney Middle School; second to Caleb Holthaus of Holy Angels and Amelie Phillips of Fairlawn; and third to Kolton Hengstler of Anna and Ava Denise of Fairlawn.
“It feels nice. I came in thinking I wasn’t going to win the first round and ended up winning the whole thing,” said Faith, first place winner of the girls competition.
Winner Samuel (boys division) replied, “It feels fantastic.” when asked how he felt about taking first place in the county-wide competition.
After the individual events, each school faced off against another in a team tournament. Team Anna, consisting of Kolton Hengstler, Dawson Howell, Brooke Klosterman, Melanie Kranenburg, Ciara Meyer, and Julian Stearns, won the competition.