(Photo by Tonia Pennington, Staff)
Boy did they conquer.
It was an honor for Chad Pender and Molly Williams to have won the Secondary Gold Medal at the state VICA competition earlier this year which entitled them to compete in the 38th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference June 28.
But then they went one step further. The teammates each returned home as proud recipients of a bronze medal.
SkillsUSA-VICA is a national organization that serves high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations including health occupations. Contests in 73 skill and leadership development areas were judged by representatives of business, industry, labor and education.
The two Sikeston Career and Technology Center students competed against 35 other student teams from all across the U.S. taking their talent, their enthusiasm and their camcorders to Kemper Arena in Kansas City in pursuit of top honors.
The theme of this year's Television/Video Production Contest was based on a 60-second Public Service Announcement for the Liberty Memorial Association, as a way of promoting the Walk of Honor. Located in downtown Kansas City, the memorial is the only one of its kind in the U.S that memorializes World War I.
The students' instructions included taking a written test, completing a story board and shooting footage. Bused to the shooting location, they had four and a half hours to plan and videotape one day. The following day they were given two and a half hours to edit their final video.
It was tough, the two say. "I think the biggest challenge was shooting footage," Williams said.
"I don't know if it was the biggest challenge, but it was pretty hot that day," added Pender. "I didn't think they were going to give us the theme and the rest of the information an hour before we went out to shoot. We just walked around the area, picking out shots and creative things that we thought would fit into the finished product."
Both say they were pleased with their finished project, especially when editing time came and they got a glimpse of what they were up against. "I thought we did OK," Williams remembered thinking.
"I felt that our finished product was on the same level as most of the other groups," chimed in Pender. "I didn't know if it was going to stand out to the judges or anything like that though."
Only one thing was missing, their television production instructor at SCTC. Steve Beydler was in Florida on a family vacation.
"I really wanted to be there at the competition but my kids and my wife would have killed me if I had changed the plans we'd made a long time ago," Beydler said.
"It was harder with him not there because last time we were able to talk to him about it and tell him what we had," said Williams, who'll be a senior at Richland High School this year.
"It probably would have made it a little easier if he had been there," agreed Pender, who'll also be a senior but at Kelly High School. "We could've pitched some ideas around."
When the day for which they had been working so fast and furiously rolled around, the judges announced the teams who had placed first, second and third. They did not indicate which team had won what.
"I knew it had to be one of them and I would have been pleased with third," said Pender. "It's feels good, it's nice to know we both can compete and beat out 35 other teams."
Beydler may not have been with them physically, but he was without a doubt with them in spirit, his thoughts often drifting to his students and the competition.
Knowing the final awards ceremony was on Friday night, Beydler made a call.
"There are very few places and very few times when you have any freedom at Disney World to make a phone call but I finally got in touch with them and just barely caught them. I wanted to see how everything went and when Molly told me they had won the bronze medal I was standing in the lobby of our resort with tears in my eyes. There were 16 members of my family on vacation with me and I woke everybody up to tell them. They were all excited."
Pender and Williams say their winning has a lot to do with what they've learned from Beydler, such as techniques and having confidence.
"When they left my sight, I said just trust in yourself. You guys have been trained and anything that you need to do this is there. By not being there it really forced them to do it themselves. Laura Hendley, our SCTC director, deserves a lot of credit too for being persistent in making sure I have what I need to teach what I feel is necessary for kids to learn the techniques and skills for television production today."
For their Bronze Medal status, each team member receives a scholarship to the Arts Institutes as well as SonicFirePro, a soundtrack creation software from Sonic Desktop.
But nationals hasn't seen the last of these two. If they win the state competition again next year they'll be back.
"We have never been to nationals before so I sent them off having no expectations. But I'm not surprised," Beydler said. "Chad and Molly are a lot alike, they are both very laid back which makes them work well together. They came to the school and worked with me during their summer vacation to prepare for the competition. When the time came to leave for Kansas City I felt like they were ready."