Girl reveals her character when mistakenly awarded first prize

A lot of people judge a news story by the headline. Often they don’t even read the story, they just read the headline. This can be a real problem when the headline is a blatant lie. In the headline it said,  Ohio girl wins statewide masonry contest but – third place boy will take her place in national event.

How terrible. At first glance it looks like a case of sexism. A girl won a contest in a male-dominated field and now she is being replaced (oh the horror) by a boy, and not even the second place boy but a third-place boy.

The start of the article seems to back up the headline.

An Ohio teenager who won a gold medal in a statewide masonry competition — and the first girl to win the top prize — found out on Facebook that she won’t be allowed to compete at a national leadership and skills conference.

Shania Clifford saw a social media post by the boy who won third prize at the SkillsUSA Ohio masonry competition announcing that he would be competing next week at the national level, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

The superintendent for Scioto County Career Technical Center, where Clifford just completed her junior year, asked officials with SkillsUSA for an explanation but was given only a vague response.

But then the truth starts to filter through.

“The scores were inappropriately put in,” an official told the superintendent.

…A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education, which sponsored the competition, said scores were incorrectly entered after the judges filled out their paperwork and inaccurately named Clifford the winner.

She was downgraded to third place, and the boy who originally placed third was named the winner.

The entire point of the SkillsUSA competition is to prepare students for opportunities in the skilled workforce. Employers want more than just skill though; they’re also looking for workers with character. Once Clifford was told about the error, the mature thing to do would have been to immediately return the gold medal along with her sincere thanks for the opportunity to compete, her heartfelt congratulations to the actual winner, and her steadfast resolve to come back next year and kick some serious butt. Of course, she would be terribly disappointed but why would she have any interest in keeping a trophy that was awarded to her by mistake?

The spokeswoman said no errors were made on the judges’ scoring sheets — and Clifford called foul.

“My question was, ‘How can you override a judge’s decision?’” Clifford said. “Why even have them?”

Clifford won’t be allowed to compete alongside 6,000 other state champions in the national event in Louisville, Kentucky — but SkillsUSA will allow her to keep the gold medal she won in Columbus.

“If they allow me to keep my award, they should allow me to keep my place,” Clifford said.




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