North Marion grads excel at SkillsUSA
In late June during the National Leadership & Skills Conference, North Marion High School 2022 graduates Caedyn Laninga and Shawn Ostrander made their families — and everyone else in Husky territory — very proud.
Ostrander placed 14th in the nation in related tech math and Caedyn Laninga placed 38th in the nation for carpentry during the event in Atlanta.
SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization. At nationals, the two students participated in community service and kept the North Marion community, including their families, top of mind.
During the entire competition, Laninga says he wore a necklace in the shape of a hammer containing the ashes of his late grandfather, Bob Thomas. Thomas taught Laninga carpentry skills in his woodshop, starting with the "project" of sawing Styrofoam at age 4.
"He was with me because he was the person that started it all, and I wanted him to be there for nationals," said Laninga, who plans to attend Clackamas Community College and to become a mechanical engineer.
Ostrander was grateful to all who had helped him along the way.
"I am proud of how I placed, and I am thankful to the teachers who helped me along the way," said Ostrander, who plans to attend the Oregon Institute of Technology and to major in cybersecurity.
Both students felt strange when they realized how small their school was compared to so many of the other schools represented at nationals, with Laninga noting that many of his competitors had been trained at specialized vocational high schools and knew all the industry jargon already.
"It was intimidating, but it was still really cool representing North Marion," Laninga said.
Ostrander agreed. He originally placed in the silver category at state but was able to qualify for nationals when the gold recipient chose not to attend. It was expensive to attend; however, he and Laninga both received support from the North Marion community through a GoFundMe campaign.
"It was very interesting representing our little school district in a national competition, especially considering that many schools represented at nationals were many times the size of North Marion," he said. "I am proud to have been able to represent North Marion as well as I did."
Their moms also were thrilled with how well they performed while representing the Huskies.
"I'm extremely proud; he did an amazing job," Melissa Laninga said.
Both she and Ostrander's mother, Lauren Fisher, noted that their boys won a challenge at a SkillsUSA community service event for the Boys & Girls Club, assembling bicycles for children. The North Marion team built four bicycles, besting the other teams and stepping in to help them complete their projects afterward.
"Shawn is the most amazing teenager in the entire world," Lauren Fisher said, sort of joking, sort of not, as proud moms do.
In fact, the North Marion community might say that every Husky is the best teenager in the world, something that these two proved at nationals with their family and community pride.
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