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The City Journals

South Jordan Middle students excel in Microsoft exams; two win state title

Mar 08, 2018 02:49PM ● By Julie Slama

South Jordan Middle School students excelled at the recent state Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams. Pictured are (front row) Annabel Lee, Julia McHenry and Paige Nelson; (back row) Avary Grimm, Lauren Yeschick, Kelton Preece, Coleton Kehl and Natalie Aguilar. Student Whitney Powell is not pictured. (Jody DeLand/South Jordan Middle School)

Two South Jordan Middle School ninth-graders are state champions of the recent Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams.

SJMS ninth-graders in the computer technology/business office specialist class this past fall studied and prepared for the 50-minute exams in Word, PowerPoint and Excel 2013. Of those ninth-graders, SJMS students had a 97 percent pass rate, said career and technical education teacher Jody DeLand.

“I had high expectations of my students, and they had them of themselves,” she said. “They worked hard every class right up until the bell rang. They’d come in before and after school and always be on task. They had the desire to learn.”

Not only did the students pass and receive a certificate, but Laura Yeschick was crowned state champion of the Word 2013 exam and Avary Grimm of the PowerPoint 2013 exam. The two also have been invited to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, June 13–15 to compete nationally. 

“We got their scores immediately, so we knew they passed, but it wasn’t until I was contacted later that I knew we had state champions,” DeLand said. “Laura had a perfect score, but so did Whitney and Coleton, but she completed her exam faster, so she won the title.” 

Whitney Powell and Coleton Kehl took second and third places, respectively. In addition to Avary, Paige Nelson earned top honors by placing third in PowerPoint, and Kelton Preece took third place in the Excel 2013 exam.

Additionally, some students studied independently to take the Microsoft Office Specialist 2013 Master. They learned skills DeLand said she has yet to master and used their knowledge to help each other on practice tests. 

Three students — Whitney Powell, Natalie Aguilar and Annabel Lee — were named Word 2013 Experts and Microsoft Office Specialist 2013 Masters.

The Microsoft Office national competition invites the top winners from both the fall and spring examination, DeLand said.

“It’s not an all-expense trip, so students have to pay their own way,” she said, adding that if anyone wishes to support students, to please contact her at the school.

“This is my second year teaching this subject at South Jordan Middle School, so I’ve never had students who have been state champions before,” she said.

DeLand said the skills the students mastered will help them in the workforce.

According to the website of the test administrators, Certiport, 91 percent of the hiring managers consider certification as part of their hiring criteria.

“They’re learning shortcuts on how to complete tasks, how to use formulas and functions in spreadsheets, and how to make themselves knowledgeable and proficient in Microsoft Office,” she said, adding that a recent study showed people in the workforce who are certified may earn up to $16,000 more per year. “I come from a business world, so I know how important these certifications are.”