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Valhalla BOCES Students Put Auto Skills to Test

VALHALLA, N.Y. – Buffering out dents and applying paint primer to cars is second nature to Southern Westchester BOCES senior Paul Macal. So when it came time to put his skills to the test in the New York State SkillsUSA competition in late April, Macal was ready.

“Going in I didn’t know if they were going to give me a fender to work on or a bumper or whatever part of the car,” said Macal, a Rye resident. “I was prepared though because I had already practiced all of that before here at school.”

Macal and fellow automotive student Lucas Cahn-Evans both placed second in the statewide SkillsUSA competition in Syracuse on April 27 in their respective categories. Macal competed in the Automotive Refinishing Technology contest while Cahn-Evans participated in the Basic Vehicle Maintenance contest.

SkillsUSA is a nationwide program that promotes technical and career education with high school students through a hands-on competition. Both students went through an interview process along with a multi-stage test where their auto work skills were judged by a panel. The competition acts as a time to compare what they learned against high school students from all over the state.

Cahn-Evans, who lives in Ardsley, participated in the contest last year for the first time, but did not place. The senior said he was confident his outcome would be different this year

“After I got through everything I felt really confident about my performance and when they called my name during the awards ceremony I was just extremely happy,” Cahn-Evans said.

Cahn-Evans’ automotive teacher at BOCES, Mike Ward, had nothing but praise for his student.

“Lucas is just always so focused when he works and his skill level is just amazing, he’s one of the best students I have here,” Ward said.

Paul Casagrande, Macal’s automotive design teacher at BOCES, said his student’s accomplishment at SkillsUSA is remarkable.

“Paul does a great job, he’s always willing to learn and ask questions about stuff so we knew he was going to well,” Casagrande said. “But at the same time in this competition he’s going up against 50 students from all over that are just like him so it’s pretty impressive.”

Macal plans to study in an automotive maintenance program at SUNY Morrisville in the fall. Cahn-Evans worked as an apprentice last summer at Fred’s Auto Repair in Briarcliff Manor and is attending the University of Northwestern Ohio in the fall where he plans to study diesel technology.

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