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Smith Vocational graduate to show off skills in Brazil

  • Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday with Bob Hahn (L).<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday with Bob Hahn (L).
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Some spare parts and plumbing on the table while Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Some spare parts and plumbing on the table while Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday with Bob Hahn (L).<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Some spare parts and plumbing on the table while Smith Vocational graduate Nicholas Michalenko trains for the Skills USA plumbing division set back at his Alma Mater Tuesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

Nobody’s asking that anymore.

Next month Nicholas Michalenko, a member of Smith Voke’s class of 2010, is headed to Brazil to compete in the plumbing division of World Skills International, a stepping-stone to the International Skills competition in Germany next July. The international competitions are held every two years, which is why Michalenko is competing after graduating from Smith Voke. He earned his spot by taking gold medals at district and national competitions in 2010.

The 20-year-old Worthington resident will be the second Smith Voke student to compete at the global level. In 2009, Scott Raymond, a student from the school’s auto shop, went to SkillsUSA’s world competition in Calgary, Canada.

“To have two kids from the same school get to that level is amazing,” said Karen Ward, executive director of the state’s SkillsUSA organization. “Smith Vocational wins our contest at the state level quite frequently. And they’re usually in the top three in terms of medals. But this is something else.”

Paterson and other teachers at Smith Voke say medals are not the only benefit of the school’s membership in SkillsUSA.

“The kids come to me and say, ‘I need to know more,’ ” Paterson said. “They stay after school. They put in extra hours. It gives them the drive.”

Michalenko took part in his first national SkillsUSA competition in 2009, coming in sixth.

“I used that as a learning experience,” he said.

Michalenko has worked at Rida Plumbing in Worthington since 2009. The job has helped keep his skills sharp, he said.

During a recent practice session at Smith Voke with a SkillsUSA-assigned expert, Michalenko worked on a new method of soldering copper pipe. He anticipates the hardest thing about the contest in Brazil will be adjusting to the metric system used in that country.

“When I get there, I just have to be committed and focused,” Michalenko said. “Honestly, at the nationals, when I started working, I didn’t hear any noises.”

Paterson has no doubts about his former student’s chances of a medal. “Nick should be working for NASA,” he said.

•••

Black box epilogue

Northampton High School students and parents who’ve been raising funds and wielding hammers to create a new “black box” performance space at the school made sure the “show” went on last week, despite a flood that destroyed a newly installed floor.

The deluge, caused by a burst water fountain that dates from the room’s days as an aerobics studio, nearly scotched plans for parents to tour the space during the high school’s Sept. 27 open house, said Stephen Eldredge, the high school’s theater instructor.

But a group of 20 student and parent volunteers and school custodians helped remove the sodden flooring and clean things up in time for the public event.

“I’m going to put a circle of chairs in there to show this is the life of our school,” Eldredge said in an interview the day before the open house. “I can’t get over the spirit and energy and commitment of the parents and students who stepped up. What a community!”

As for replacing the floor, “We’ll have to keep fundraising,” Eldredge said. Supporters have already raised more than $10,000 for renovations to the space, which will be used for experimental and student-led productions.

Donations can be sent to Black Box Theater, Northampton High School, 380 Elm St., Northampton, MA 01060.

•••

Electronics recycling

JFK Middle School will host an electronics recycling day Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon outside the school on Bridge Road in Florence. Fees for items range from $5 for computers to $10 for TVs and refrigerators. Cellphones, printer cartridges, CDs and videocassettes will also be accepted. No registration is needed and the collection will take place rain or shine. Proceeds will benefit the JFK PTO. For details, contact Monica Green at 585-1074.

•••

HarvestFest

The Leeds School PTO will hold a bake sale at the Valley HarvestFest event on Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Pines Theater in Look Park. HarvestFest features a performance by elementary school alumnus Jamie Kent and his band as well as NRBQ. Admission is free for children under 12, $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Anyone who brings a nonperishable food item for the Northampton Survival Center gets a $2 discount. For tickets, call the Northampton Box Office, 586-8686.

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