Nicolet College's Competition Day sparks friendly rivalries, career options for 165 high school studentsSubmitted: 04/19/2018

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RHINELANDER - Rubber gloves, a fingerprinting kit, and evidence bags all made it look like a serious crime happened in a room on the Nicolet College campus in Rhinelander on Thursday morning, but Kobe Gallion was pretty much just playing pretend.

"Yeah, it's fun," Gallion said of the investigative work.  "It's like a big puzzle, really, that's all."

The Crandon High School senior worked with classmates to take blood samples and lift fingerprints at Nicolet's "Crime Scene Investigation" station while competing against another school.

"I might as well just get my foot in the door," Gallion said.

Gallion is already signed up for the college's criminal justice program next year, but Nicolet's annual high school Competition Day gave him a taste of what he'll actually be doing in the future.

Seven other stations, like welding and "cupcake wars," allowed more than 160 students from 14 area high schools to battle each other for prizes. It also helped the college recruit.

"Just interacting with adults and interacting with the college staff, I think, is really important for them," career coach Angeline von Neupert said.

That included staff members like information technology instructor Ethan Blue.

"I enjoy watching people fail and struggle because that's how you learn," Blue said with a smile.

Blue's "Build a Computer" station teams did exactly that: plugging in hardware, then racing to upload software before the other team could finish.

"It's pivotal and it really helped me out," Phelps senior Nolan Rosner said of the computer competition. "I used to take apart computers at my school, so [this was a] great experience."

Blue knows stations like his can be intimidating, but with a little direction and guidance he knows Nicolet instructors were building serious interest in students' dreams that may turn into careers.

"I hope they found it fun and got them interested in some kind of career that they can put these skills to use," Blue said.

Nicolet held a lunch and awards show after the morning's competitions. Gallion's Crandon team won the CSI lab and Rosner's Phelps group won the Build a Computer station. The full list of winners is below.

Phelps - Health Occupations

Laona - Cosmotology

Rhinelander - Automotive

Crandon - Culinary Arts

Rhinelander - Business

Phelps - Information Technology

Crandon - Criminal Justice

Laona -  Welding

Rhinelander - Automotive

Story By: Lane Kimble

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