Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) continues to excel in multiple fields after two students took home gold medals at the Skills Alberta Provincial Competition on May 9th.
Grade 12 students Camryn Grant and Ben Rainforth will now both be travelling to Halifax, Nova Scotia to represent Team Alberta at Skills National Competition from May 25 to 30th.
Grant, who won her gold medal in photography, took top spot after a disappointing competition in 2018.
“I want to thank my teachers for being so supportive,” she said. “They have been behind me all the way. Last year I was discouraged after not doing as well, but they told me I had to go because they saw all of the potential.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have gone this year.”
Unlike other competitions which require contestants to work in person, photography is done through online submission.
“They give you a theme where you create three photos related to that them and then you submit it,” Grant said. “They pick the top 18 out of 40. The theme this year was games, so I used sport photos from here at the school and my brother’s hockey team.”
Grant said her initial interest in photography came from her mother who is a professional photographer.
“My whole life I have been exposed to it,” she said. “I didn’t think much about it until I was about 12 years old and then I was like, ‘Yo this is kind of cool’. My mom taught me the basics — I am mostly self taught, but she got me started and helped along the way.”
Her involvement in Skills Alberta came after a teacher noticed her talent and suggested she enter.
“Mr. Kissel came up to me after my social final exam and said I was a really good photographer and that I should seriously think about getting into this. That was in Grade 10, which was two years ago,” she said.
Winning the opportunity to go to nationals was a shock to grant
“I thought I would maybe win bronze, so when they announced bronze and it wasn’t me I was like, ‘Awe shoot’. When they called my name for the gold medal, I was shocked for days after and I am still shocked,” she said.
In Halifax, grant will have two days to take home a national championship
“They give you a scope, which is a description of what you are doing,” she said. “This year it wasn’t very detailed, but it is similar to what I did at Provincials so I am ahead and know what is expected.
“I am very excited. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
She added she doesn’t plan to pursue photography professionally but plans to continue with it in her spare time.
Rainforth, who won his gold medal in welding, won provincials in Edmonton after winning regionals at Red Deer College.
“I won gold there and then the top two from there going to provincials in Edmonton. At provincials, it is everyone from around the province,” he said. “Beforehand you get a plan with the project. In my case, it was a type of box. They release that way before the event so you can practise and then on the day of, you get a new drawing and they can change the design up to 30 per cent. So you set that all up, get someone to check it and then you weld it out.”
At provincials, contestants are given six hours to compete — with Rainforth taking the full time. His knack for precision started in Grade 10 in the LCHS Fabrication Shop
“I started to like doing it. They have a great shop here at the high school,” he said. “I am registered apprentice as a welder and I have been working as a welder for the last two years.”
Rainforth doesn’t know if winning provincials will help him make more money in future but thinks it will go a long to helping him find a job.
He credits his teachers for helping him get where he is now.
“It feels pretty crazy. It still hasn’t sunk in that I am going all the way to the other side of the country to do something I love doing,” he said, adding that time will tell if he is able to win gold at nationals.