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Clark Magnet, Crescenta Valley High students show off skills at national championship

Clark Magnet High School students win first place in a national competition.
A team of Clark Magnet High School students, from left, Larisa Assadourian, Tsoler Demerdjian and Alaina Chiriyankandath Joby, along with Crescenta Valley High’s Carly Ngo, far right, took first place at the 55th annual SkillsUSA National competition. Ngo earned gold for her mastery of medical math.
(Courtesy of Glendale Unified School District)

A Glendale Unified foursome of students claimed gold at the 55th annual SkillsUSA Championships in Louisville, Ky.

Clark Magnet High School’s Larisa Assadourian, Tsoler Demerdjian and Alaina Chiriyankandath Joby, along with Crescenta Valley’s Carly Ngo, earned national titlist acclaim at the weeklong event held at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

The competition, which ended June 28, annually showcases career and technical education students. About 6,300 competitors, all state champions, squared off in 103 trade, technical and leadership events.

Competition divisions ranged from 3D visualization and animation to barbering, cybersecurity and even nail care.

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Clark’s gold was a team effort by Assadourian, Demerdjian and Joby.

The trio earned first place in the Career Pathways — Natural Resources-Agriculture-Food division, finishing with 870 points out of a possible 1,000 total.

Groups completed presentations and were judged on various elements, such as “knowledge attained,” “presentation skills” and “overall effect.”

Clark’s project included a story mapping presentation entitled, “The Albatross and Us: Exploring the Effects of Marine Debris through the Eyes of the Albatross.”

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“They showed the skills that they learned in my [Graphic Information Systems] class for a project that had to do with natural resources,” said Clark GIS instructor Dominique Evans-Bye.

Students researched the albatross, a bird Joby admits “I’d never even heard of,” and researched the effects of pollution and, in particular, plastic contamination of the water fowl’s diet.

One hands-on way Joby and her teammates familiarized themselves with the albatross was to purchase and examine a baby bird bolus, which Evans-Bye described as a “cigar-shaped” mass regurgitated by the bird.

“We dissected it and we found that over 75% of it consisted of plastic,” Joby said. “That’s how our project tied into marine debris.”

She added, “It also tied in with us. If we keep going the way we’re going with marine debris then we may end up with plastic in our system, like the albatross.”

The group also set up an exhibit table complete with a bolus that included part of a fishing net.

Clark’s group earned its admittance to the finals by winning the state championship in April.

As for Ngo, the medical math champ, the incoming senior earned gold at the state finals. Her win at the national level surprised her.

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“This is my first-ever contest in medical math, so to do that well, I didn’t expect it and it was so exciting,” Ngo said. “I loved going to Kentucky and meeting so many smart, intelligent and inspiring people. I loved everything.”

Ngo, a member of Crescenta Valley High’s Academy of Science and Medicine, was selected for the medical math field by academy advisor Orenda Tuason.

Medical math, according to Ngo, is used by, “doctors and nurses to calculate dosages and intravenous flow rates. So, it’s really important to calculate the right dosage.”

Competition was toughest at the national level, where multiple choice questions at previous levels were replaced by fill-in-the-blank inquiries.

Ngo was given two hours to finish 100 questions and tallied a 96, which secured her the win by one point.

“There were one or two questions that I was totally unsure about because we received a collegiate test,” Ngo said. “But, I managed to finish.”

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