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Bonnabel Students Win Gold

Seven gold medalists from the regional SkillsUSA competition, all students at Bonnabel Magnet Academy, will attend the national competition for SkillsUSA in Kansas City, Missouri this summer.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

Marilyn Saponara, who teaches commercial art at Bonnabel, has served as the SkillsUSA advisor for the past 17 years and was recently named as the Louisiana Advisor of the Year.

“It is an honor to be selected advisor of the year because there are so many people who are so dedicated to career education,” Saponara said. “We hope that this organization can help our state move forward in career education and make it an important part of the high school curriculum.”

Bonnabel and Cuillier hosted the Louisiana regional competition. In total, Bonnabel students won a total of 16 medals in culinary arts, commercial baking, screen-printing, advertising design, photography, carpentry, cabinet making, medical areas, and leadership.

Saponara said that students participate in weeklong activities at the national competition.
“It’s an awesome networking experience,” she said. “They meet students from every state and have the opportunity to work with industry professionals.”

Senior Zachary Ziegler won the gold medal for culinary arts. Ziegler’s love of cooking started at a young age when he would help his cousin prepare holiday meals. He says he is looking forward to the national competition and compares it to the television show “Iron Chef” because he can only bring in the tools he thinks he will need. Ziegler plans to attend Nicholls State University in the fall to study culinary arts.

Commercial baking gold medal winner Michelle Ramos was overwhelmed when she first unloaded her packet of ingredients during the regional competition. In the course of eight hours, the senior had to bake French bread, sugar cookies, muffins, and a pie, and decorate a cake.

But as the day progressed, she was very excited to be working with other students who were as passionate as she about baking.

“I’ve been baking since I was a little girl,” Ramos said. “I’ve always made sugar cookies, but now I just love to bake bread.”

Ramos plans to attend college to study business and hopes to transfer to Nicholls State University to study pastry making with the goal of opening her own bakery.

Screen-printing gold medalist Mayan Eguigure selected her specialty because of her interest in art. The Bonnabel senior had to go through the entire process of screen-printing during her regional competition, from getting the design on the screen, placing the paint, and putting the actual screen print on the shirt.

While she admits that the process can be tough, Eguigure enjoys when customers are pleased with their shirts.

“We run a screen-printing business here at Bonnabel,” she said. “Running this business has taught me to be organized and how to help customers get what they want.”
Eguigure plans to study graphic design.

For junior Raiane Dacosta, what started as a hobby turned into a gold medal and one day, a career.

“When I was younger, I would dress up my little sister and take her picture,” said Dacosta.
Her interest in photography grew, as did her technical knowledge about the digital camera and the editing process, earning her a top medal in the SkillsUSA regionals. Dacosta puts her knowledge and passion to good use as a yearbook staffer.

After spending a summer volunteering at the health clinic of a family friend, senior Tyreauna Scott knew that the medical field was for her. Scott won the gold medal in the medical terminology category.

“I like to say that medical terminology is the building block,” she said. “You have to learn these terms and diseases so that you can actually diagnose a patient.”

Scott credits her success in the competition to memorizing the terminology using flashcards. She knows that the national competition will be challenging, but welcomes it.

She plans to study biology at Loyola University New Orleans.

Taylor Williams didn’t know what SkillsUSA was before she entered the job interview competition, but the sophomore came away a gold medal winner.

“One day, my teacher and a classmate suggested that I enter the job interview competition because I would be good at it, so we started preparing,” she said.

Williams learned how to dress for an interview, write a resume, answer questions and present herself. She’s confident that the skills she mastered in the regional competition will serve her well at nationals.