One-quarter of P.E.I.’s nat’l skills team came from Westisle

Eric McCarthy
Published on June 9, 2014

Westisle Robotics team members, front row from left, Curtis Perry, Luke Stetson, Tyson Gard and Randy Gamble, demonstrate their robotic crokinole skills to other National Skills Canada competitors from their school. From left are Mary Beth Perry, Shania Pridham, Nathan Campbell, Alan MacArthur, Jordan MacDonald and Megan Chant. Missing is Spencer Barnes-Rayner.

ELMSDALE -- Anyone who has ever played crokinole would know the game requires a certain amount of skill and strategy. Those elements don’t change when the game is played by people-manipulated robots.

A four-member robotics team from Westisle Composite High School finished fifth in a very competitive field at the Skills Canada national competition last week at the International Convention Center in Mississauga.

The team, usually with Curtis Perry at the controls and Tyson Gard, Randy Gamble and Luke Stetson taking turns as team spotter, played seven round-robin games and three playoff games before bowing out of the competition.

Controlling the amount of pressure on each shot was critical, Perry acknowledged.

“We just tried to get as many pucks on the board and not worry about the other team,” Gard revealed.

The strategy worked well in the round robin when Westisle had one of the best overall scores, averaging around 50 points per game. The focus shifted to points for and against in the play-offs and Westisle finished that round with a 1-2 record.

Oh, yes, the crokinole board was considerably larger than the conventional board, and the robot shot pucks rather than the usual finger-flicked checkers. 

With 11 competitors, including its robotics team, Westisle accounted for just over 25 per cent of the P.E.I. team at the National competition.

While Westisle was shut out of the medal count, Team P.E.I. returned with one silver medal and four bronze medals

Jordan MacLean from Three Oaks picked up a silver medal in workplace safety while Dane Cutcliffe and Isaiah Jabbour from Colonel Gray earned bronze in TV/Video production and Jacob MacDonald from Bluefield took bronze in cabinet-making. At the post-secondary level. Holland College students Stephen Simpson in Automation and Control and Josh Hay in Architectural Technology and Design claimed bronze medals for P.E.I.

Westisle welding instructor Duffy Chaisson, accompanied the Westisle students to the competition and said they put on a fine show against stiff competition. The competition was even stiffer this year because this is a world qualification year, he noted.

This was the second trip to nationals for two members of the Westisle contingent. Nathan Campbell moved up to sixth this year in outdoor power equipment after finishing seventh last year. Alan MacArthur retained his sixth place position in electrical installation.

Grade 12 student Shania Pridham took fourth in hairstyling and suggested all the preparation for nationals should serve her well in her high school course. 

Spencer Barnes-Rayner placed fourth in electronics. The competition for the top six positions was very close.

Grade 10 student Megan Chant took a sixth place finish home from her job search competition where she applied for a community center sales associate position.

Mary Beth Perry, Grade 11 competed in job skills demonstration, showing how to do a perm, and placed fifth.

Jordan MacDonald, Grade 12, placed ninth in prepared speech.