Ready...Set... Preparing for District Competition!

by Trevor Cunningham, MTT senior

There’s excitement in the air at LCCTC as sixty-two students prepare to demonstrate their skills at the SkillsUSA District 10 Championships to be held at the New Castle School of Trades and Lawrence County CTC on Friday, January 18th. Altogether, about 20% of LCCTC’s student population claims proud membership in SkillsUSA; there are students representing LCCTC from each shop and every district.

In their quest to advance to state competition, members of the Lawrence County CTC Chapter of SkillsUSA will join with hundreds of other CTC students from Western Pennsylvania from as far north as Erie County, as far east as Bedford County, and as far south as Armstrong County. Only those claiming the gold medal will advance to Hershey, PA in April, so the stakes are high.

To prepare for their competition, students have been busy studying for their knowledge tests, refining their skills, and practicing, practicing, practicing.

There are many opportunities for students to demonstrate their skills through competition.

Busy in preparation for her competition in Medical Math, HA junior Caryn Brandes states, “I like the the we have the ability to compete in something other than sports. It gives us a chance to compete in what we really love — our future careers!”

“For my competition, Restaurant Service, there’s a lot to memorize,” laughs Elizabeth Edinger, RT junior. “However — just like at work, the harder I work at doing my best, the more confident I become.”

Dasia Florence has been practicing her skills and will compete in First Aid/CPR, but to give her an edge, she has a plan to follow on the days that lead up to competition: “I’ll make sure I get plenty of rest so I can concentrate. I want to be able to focus on executing my skills when it counts most.“

In her second year of competition, senior Jessalyn Kray knows that to compete in Commercial Baking, the most important strategy she needs to use to prepare for districts is this: “To gain confidence in my work and practice, practice, practice!”

“Two important skills I’ve learned is organization and patience,” reflects Brandon Bright, HA junior. To prepare to compete in Health Occupations Portfolio, Brandon has compiled the evidence of skills he’s gained over the last two years of Health Assisting, and now, it’s time to prepare his presentation and get ready for the interview. “The best thing I can do is be patient and not rush. I need to remember to breathe and relax; it’s an important strategy in a highly intense environment.”

Nobody wants to be surprised when it comes to paying a bill for service; junior Collision Repair student, Bailey Eaton, knows this as she prepares for her competition, Automotive Estimating. “What I feel was most important in my competition is accuracy. When considering the correct components of the customer’s vehicle — If I don’t correctly register the estimate into the system, I won’t come out with a correct number. In a real life situation, my boss would lose money. In a SkillsUSA situation such as the one I will compete, the closer I get, the better my chances are for success.”

SkillsUSA offers contests in Leadership, as well!

Amelia Hogue, Cosmetology junior, has been practicing her public speaking skills and will compete in Prepared Speech: “Pushing myself to step outside of my comfort zone was my first step, yet working hard has been most important in preparing for districts. I also think it’s important to have the winners’ mindset going in to the competition. Simply from my preparation, I feel so much more confident from this experience, and I haven’t even competed yet!”

Junior EO student, Steve Akins, knows that SkillsUSA helps a student hone in on more than career skills; “As the electrician in Team Works, I know that communication is vital to be victorious. It’s a skill that will serve me well in life.”

Steve’s teammate, Logan Downer, Carpentry senior, knows that repeated practice is a must. “We have a time-limit to finish — just like a real-life deadline. We want to work efficiently, but we want to be right.” Team competitions can be especially challenging because each team member must work together like a well-oiled machine, and our Teamworks kiddos are learning just that.

As with high school sports, these students are not only competing for themselves; they are competing for the school-pride. When LCCTC students compete against nine other counties in northwestern PA to determine the best-of-the-best, they represent our students, our staff, our school, our county and SkillsUSA. They take great pride in what they do — and they should!

“The most important thing about preparing for SkillsUSA is to be thorough and to never give up,” considers VA junior Linsey Watson who is preparing to compete in Job Skill Demonstration. “Sometimes I may get annoyed and frustrated, but I always need to push through. If I do that, I’ll come out on top — whether it’s doing my personal best in competition or in doing my best in my career.” Now that pretty much sums up what SkillsUSA is all about.

Good luck, LCCTC’s SkillsUSA competitors!