Two and half days of intense competition culminated in a first-place award and $1,000 scholarships each for Hannah Plavnick and Stephanie Hammond, the team from Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School, Mississauga, ON, Canada. The duo was declared the winner of the 12th Annual International Phoenix Challenge Flexo Skills Competition, which took place at the Harper National Flexographic Center at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, USA, in early April.
Hammond and Plavnick won the first place award by earning this year’s highest combined scores in the contest’s five exams: written knowledge, math, prepress proficiency, press operation and platemaking. In addition to the two $1,000 Phoenix Challenge Foundation Scholarships, the winning team took home the 2009 Harper Flexo High School of the Year trophy cup, for display at its school.
“I could tell when talking to Hannah Plavnick and Stephanie Hammond that they were here to win,” says Bettylyn Krafft, the Phoenix Challenge executive director. “Hannah Plavnick was one of the team that won in 2008, and she had the determination to try for the second time. They spent many long hours timing themselves at the press and practicing for the press, as well as many hours studying for the level one test. It was great to see all the hard work that these students have put in to studying for the competition payoff.”
It was a close race between second and third place this year, but Brittney Skinner and Brandon Smith, representing Fairfield Career & Technology Center in Winnsboro, SC, USA, walked away from the competition with medals for their second-place win, scholarships for $500 and a plaque for the school to commemorate it. The second place scholarships this year were sponsored by Howard and Ann Vreeland.
Abdul Murad & Grant Izukawa, also of Gordon Graydon, won the third place position.
“The rivalry gets more challenging every year as the best high school students in the United States and Canada train and prepare vigorously and tenaciously for this flexographic competition – with all eyes on the top awards,” says Krafft.
Founded in 1998, the Phoenix Challenge Foundation is an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization of industry professionals dedicated to the recruitment and development of the future workforce for flexography. Each year, flexo high school students and teachers from throughout the US and Canada are invited to the Phoenix Challenge, a two-day skill-based competition with hands-on and written testing in operating a flexo press, prepress, plate-making, and overall flexo knowledge. Winners are eligible for scholarships funded by the Phoenix Challenge Foundation. To date, $24,000 in scholarships has been awarded to encourage students to pursue further education and a career in flexography.