February 5, 2013 9:52:54 AM
Columbus High School students won more than $12,000 in scholarship money at the 2013 Scholar's Olympiad Competition last week at East Mississippi Community College.
Thirteen students from McKellar Center, the school's vocational program, competed in a series of competitions. Scholarship money was awards for first, second and third-place finishers.
Orlando Taylor, a senior, won $2,000 for his first-place showing in the Automotive Services competition.
Taylor said he has been tinkering on cars since he was a child and someday plans to open his own auto shop. The youngest of three children, Taylor said he often changes the oil in his family members' cars or checks the vehicles' diagnostics before they are taken to the shop, skills he learned as a boy from observing his uncle, a diesel mechanic.
Taylor also attributes his knowledge of automobiles, specifically engine repair, to his time spent at McKellar.
Taylor took drafting class at McKelllar during his freshman year, but quickly lost interest when he began to devote his attention to playing football. After his sophomore year, he decided to once again try the classes offered at McKellar. This time, he choose to study auto mechanics. Taylor said that once he began working on the cars, he quickly forgot football and focused all his attention on his studies.
"I wanted McKellar more than I wanted football," he said. "That's what I want to do after I graduate."
Once he graduates in May, Taylor said he plans to either attend East Mississippi Community College of Shelton State. Community College. Since the competition was sponsored by EMCC, the scholarship money can only be used at EMCC.
Taylor's classmate and fellow senior Sanitria Robinson also took first place in the competition. Robinson, who studied culinary arts at McKellar her sophomore and junior year, won first place in the culinary category.
Robinson said she prefers the pastry side of the culinary world.
"With seasoning food, you have to wonder what the person's tastes are. With pastry, it's set, there's no difference in taste. You either like sweets or you don't."
Robinson said she discovered her passion for cooking thanks to the classes offered at McKellar.
"That was the period that really made a difference," she said. "I really took an interest."
Robinson is constantly baking cupcakes for her friends and likes to explore her creative side, experimenting with different fillings and icing flavors and decorations. She has lofty dreams for herself and said she would like to be a doctor but also own a bakery.
Robinson's counselor, Laurie Davis, said she is confident her students can do anything they set their mind to.
Davis began her career as a teacher at McKellar in 1990 before becoming the school's counselor in 1996. For Davis, guiding her young students and helping them choose a career that is right for them is a passion.
"My heart is in career and technical education," she said. "A lot of kids come to McKellar and find their niche. It's so useful. Right away, kids see it."
For Taylor and Robinson, the skills they have learned at McKellar have been instrumental in where they are today. For Robinson, McKellar gave her the confidence to set out to achieve her goals.
"Every dream starts with something impossible," she said.
The other winners from the Olympiad Competition are:
■ John Clayton Harmon - third place - Mathematics - $400
■ Roshad Meeks - third place - History - $400
■ Sophia Timm - second place - Physical Science - $1000
■ Marino Randle - third place - Biological Science - $400
■ Forrest Granderson - third place - Musical Performance - $400
■ Rachel Wheeler - second place - Art - $1000
■ Brianna Edinburgh - second place - CAD Drafting - $1000
■ Brittiana Jones - first place - Nursing - $2000
■ Kenyatta Stewart - third place - Culinary - $400
■ Cacovia Millsap - second place - Marketing, Hospitality, and Tourism - $1000
■ Shawn Stallings - third place - Marketing, Hospitality, and Tourism - $400
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah
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