Saint Clair Tops ‘What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?’ Event

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — This year’s What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? video contest came to a close Tuesday with Saint Clair Middle School in St. Clair, Pa., taking top honors.

The school was one of four from the Berks Schuylkill region that made its way to the finals. Tuesday’s virtual award ceremony saw 22 schools from 13 regions in the commonwealth competing for the top prize.

Saint Clair partnered with Hydro Cressona, an extrusion plant that provides extrusion, machining, fabrication and finishing services, according to its website. Student teams were tasked to shoot and produce a video of their company partner to spotlight manufacturing careers in the commonwealth. Click here to watch the winning team’s video.

Team members Alexis Coy, Kennice Goodman, Ava Lewis and Corey Pogash were coached by teacher, Riyuichi Narita. During the virtual award presentation, the team received pre-taped congratulations from the middle school principal, Samuel Kochenberger, and Michele Atkinson, president and CEO of Hydro.

“Hydro is honored to have partnered with the Saint Clair Middle School in making this video. Congratulations to the outstanding team in this well-deserved award,” Atkinson said.

Dennis Davin, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development presented the first place award. The department has supported the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? program since its inception in 2013 by providing the original funding to start the program, as well as additional funds to expand the contest.

“All of you represent the bright future of manufacturing in our commonwealth,” Davin said. “I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your involvement in this contest and for your efforts to show Pennsylvania what’s so cool about manufacturing.”

This year, more than 200 student teams represented 16 regions in the commonwealth. Among them include Greenville Jr/Sr High School in Mercer County who represented the West Central Pa. region.

Second place was awarded to Reading Southern Middle School, Reading, which partnered with Novipax LLC. The team, also from the Berks Schuylkill region, including students Francisco Santiago Cruz, Aileen Disla, Jaylyn Lopez-Cintron, Kevin Nguyen, Yenaylee Santos, Giovanie Zavala and Kevin Navarro.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary W. Gerard Oleksiak presented the award. He applauded the work of the students, reminding them that today’s manufacturing “is not your grandfather’s industry,” he said.

“It’s not dark, dirty and dangerous,” he Oleksiak. “These opportunities are increasingly clean, technology-oriented and available. And we need to fill these jobs with a highly skilled workforce.”

Despite the current challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, that workforce will be needed, he continued, “and it will include you.”

Third place went to the Oil City Area Middle School, whose video featured the Matric Group of Seneca, Pa. The team from the Forest & Oil Region included students Carley Ames, Makayla and Mackenzie Canaan, Memphis Hulver, Shalyn Whittemore, Sarah Fox and Olivia Vorse.

Middle school co-principals Craig Kasunic and Joy Zuck congratulated the students on the win.

“We’re Oiler proud of all your hard work,” Zuck said.

Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, presented the award.

“At the Department of Education, we know that today’s students make up tomorrow’s workforce. That means our future depends on you,” Rivera said. “Our goal is for every student to graduate from high school, college-, career- and community-ready, and to find a career pathway they’re passionate about, whether it’s manufacturing, engineering or teaching.”

Jack Pfunder, founder of the contest, presented the Viewers Choice Award to the team that accrued the most votes from viewers across the commonwealth. Since 2013, the competition has received more than 3 million votes from viewers, Pfunder said.

“Never could I have imagined the great success we have experienced over the last seven years,” he said. “Great job to all the student teams in the history of this program.”

This year’s Viewers Choice Award winner enlisted the help of school staff and administration to push their video to the community. Their efforts “broke all state records in the number of votes per school for a contest,” he said.

Springhouse Middle School, representing the Lehigh Valley region, took the Viewers Choice Award for its video featuring Sharp Packaging Solutions. The Leigh Valley competition accrued 225,477 votes from viewers between all of the schools involved.

The school’s principal, Michelle Minotti, recorded words of congratulations for the students, as did Thomas Deutsch, president and CEO of Sharp.

“Congratulations and well deserved on your award,” Deutsch said. “Have a great summer, be safe and go Springhouse.”

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.