Nine students headed to state SkillsUSA championship

Nine students at the Warren County Career Center received gold medals at the district competition at the New Castle School of Trades on Jan. 18 and qualified for the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania Championships.

The Championships, scheduled for April 3-5 in Hershey, are the state-level competitions for public high school and college students enrolled in trade, technical, and skilled service professional instruction programs.

The Championships program begins at the local level with contests in classrooms. Winners advance through district, regional and state competitions, and only the best make it to the national event. Students benefit no matter how they place in their contests because they test their skills, frequently make job contacts, and have a chance for recognition.

Emily Raybuck, a junior at Warren Area High School, received a gold medal in Restaurant Service. She received a second place at districts last year, so this will be her first state competition.

She said, “I love to go to Skills competitions, as it is a good experience and a lot of fun. It’s like a job interview, very nerve-wracking, but a big accomplishment.

After graduating, Raybuck said she would like to work in hospitality management, “like at a big hotel.”

Jacob Devereaux, a senior at Eisenhower High School, will compete in Electronics Technology.

He said, “We analyze and construct circuitry in electronics. At this point, our teacher is giving us a little bit of everything, like residential wiring, AC/DC, surface mount which is miniature components on circuit boards, programmable logic controllers, and communications.”

For the SkillsUSA, Devereaux said the competition will be “mostly hands-on, hooking up a built-in power supply to an oscilloscope for diagnostics, and a theory test.” He has been accepted at Penn State University’s Harrisburg campus and plans on spending his final two years at the main campus in State College for a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Charleigh Smith will compete in Architectural Drafting, and plans to attend Pittsburgh Technical Institute for its Graphic Design Program. She said, “Part of the reason (I chose) PTI is they have all of the new equipment and software.”

Six other county students who will compete in the state competition are Jason Clever, Carpentry; Dan Henry, Automotive Service Specialization; Calvin Sutton, Electrical Construction Wiring; Paul York, Motorcycle Service Technology; Ron Kepple, Power Equipment Technology; and Ryan McShane, Marine Service Technology.

Hershey is the host site for the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania Skill and Leadership Conference each year. Skill competitions are hosted at the Lebanon County Exposition Center and various school sites. Begun in 1965, the Championships have grown to over 73 hands-on and leadership competitions. The SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Conference is comprised of over 1,800 attendees, which includes judges from business and industry, educational exhibitors, advisors, competitors and delegates. Pennsylvania is the third largest state for competitors and the organization.

First-place winners represent the state at the National SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City, Mo., the last week of June each year. Next year, the Championships will move to Louisville, Ky. State and national winners receive gold, silver and bronze medallions, scholarships, tools and other awards.

Last year, one local student Macenzie Engstrom placed seventh in the Marine Technology national competition.