(July 13, 2018) Several Worcester Technical High School teams received national recognition during the Skills USA Championships held in Louisville, Kentucky, June 27-28.
More than 6,300 high school and middle school students competed at the national showcase of career and technical education. Skills USA is the largest skill competition in the world and covers 1.4 million square feet, or the equivalence of 20 football fields.
The Skills USA Championships event is held annually for students in middle school, high school or college/post-secondary programs as part of the Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference. More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support Skills USA at the national level.
Of the 21 Worcester Tech students who participated in the championship, 18 placed in the top 10 in their divisions.
“We did very well this year,” said Worcester Technical Welding Instructor and Skills USA National Advisor Richard Stephens. “They practiced throughout the year to prepare for this.”
Of the eight top 10 Worcester Tech teams, four received Skill Point Certificates. Skill Point Certificates are components of Skills USA’s assessment program for career and technical education.
Certificates are awarded to students who met a predetermined threshold score in their competition, as defined by the specific industry. Some industries do not offer certificates.
Four Worcester Tech teams earned certificates.
Darren Taylor Jr., Harley Elsner and Zachary Moats placed sixth in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHSA) Industry competition. The team focused on welding safety, documenting improvements and successes in a scrapbook portfolio, which was presented to a panel of judges.
Danielle Munn, Makayla Zajdel and Sierra Payne finished sixth in Health and Services competition.
A bio-med-based program, the students inflated a cow’s lung to observe diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, and what causes them (smoking, vaping, allergy triggers, etc.).
The students also spoke with sixth graders about the damage that can be caused by smoking and vaping.
Anastacia Elbert, Helen Odenwald and Mia Dill came in sixth place in Human Services competition.
A Homeland Security-based program, the team drafted exercises for preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, and safety measures that can be implemented at school or home.
Shea Griffin placed seventh in Related Technical Math. Griffin had to respond and determine the formulas for technical questions, such as the volume of a liquid, the surface area of a wall, and other hands-on formula-based questions.
Other teams that placed in the top 10 in their competitions were: DeShawn Collick and Adam Taylor, 10th place, Community Action Project; Eric Taylor, ninth place, Building Maintenance; Kaleb Schmuki and Maggie Kemp, fourth place, Mobile Robotic Technology; Rebecca Staines, Chase Farlow and Daniel Outten from Snow Hill Middle, sixth place, Team Engineering Challenge – Middle School.
“We’ve got a great program at Worcester Tech,” Stephens said. “We have a great staff and administration. We keep growing every year. This year we had the most students we’ve ever had – we had 318 members.”
Worcester is also the only county in Maryland which sponsors a middle school team in the competition.
“Each year when we do our state contest we take around 90 kids to the state contest in Baltimore, for a two-day [competition],” he continued. “For the last seven years we’ve average 52-56 of our kids placing in the top three in Maryland, which is phenomenal.”
Stephens and co-advisor Crystal Bunting helped the teams practice their skills throughout the school year for the state and national competitions.
“The good thing about Skills USA is the industries are involved in this,” Stephens said. “When we say they practice a lot, it’s what they do in their classes. They’re learning it as they go and Skills USA has done a great job incorporating this into the contest that we do.
“They are already learning, but we take time to practice in front of groups and when they do presentations we practice that too. Some of them are timed too,” he continued.
For the 2018-19 school year, Worcester Tech, located in Newark, will participate in the local level of the competition in February. Earlier this year, 140 Worcester Tech students participated in the local level competition.
To learn more about Skills USA, go to www.SkillsUSA.org.