SkillsUSA Go for Gold In Multiple Competitions at State Conference


By Maiya Ezawa
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(Timothy Won | Trojan Times) SkillsUSA President Tyler LaBonte (12) prepared for months to compete. During the final days the club would even stay at MHS until 8:30 p.m.

From Feb. 22 to 24, SkillsUSA, a club that features students from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) program at MHS competed in job interviews to cabinetmaking, and went to the Hawaii Convention Center for state level competitions. Various groups, including those in the Promotional Bulletin Board competition, placed high enough to continue to the national competition in Kentucky in May.

“I think (my group and I) did phenomenal. A lot of time and effort went into the making of our board and although we faced many obstacles and had (the) option of taking the easy way out we never did, we always put in 100 percent. Our goals for the competition was to gain more experience in graphic design overall,” stated Junior Christina Casanova, who placed second with her group for the Promotional Bulletin Board competition.

The conference, which featured competitions from various groups including SkillsUSA, Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) and Family Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), was designed to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate skills that correspond to their tentative future career choices. “Working through the process we were able to learn how to take on different challenges and I think it was a very eye-opening experience. Goals that I feel like I would set in the future would be to never back down from any challenge and think of new and innovative ways to get a task done,” stated Junior Grace Welch, who competed alongside Casanova and Sophomore Griffyn Tijamo. “I’ve always liked how graphic design provides people the resources to convey their ideas onto the screen, regardless of what level of artistic ability they might have.”

Competing with the state’s best required participants to push themselves to their limits and find ways to stay dedicated and motivated throughout their project. “In my group, I was the one primarily working on the portfolio and speech in InDesign,” stated Senior Christian Howe. 

“Preparing for the conference was very intense. There was a lot to do and it was getting to crunch time, my group and I would stay at school until about 8:30 p.m. or so to work on it,” said Howe, who will be moving on to the national competitions with his group for Promotional Bulletin Board. “My strengths were definitely not giving up; like I said earlier we had many chances to take the easy way out but we refused to; we didn’t want to present a board we weren’t proud of. I think what I can improve on is time management; this is my first time going into this competition and I did not realize all the time we’d spend on just small little details,” added Casanova.

Because of the collaborative aspect of competitions, certain parts of projects were delegated within the group to cater to individual skills. “Each person in our group put effort in areas that we were strongest in. I worked a lot on illustrating the ideas we had into a digital medium. This was definitely a tremendous group effort and the board could not have become what it is without each member’s contribution. To prepare for the conference we often stayed after school for long hours constructing the board and practicing the speech to perfection,” elaborated Welch.

Compared to other competitions high school students compete in, SkillsUSA is often considered more rigorous and time consuming. “I’ve never competed in a competition with SkillsUSA before but I have competed in smaller competitions in other fields but none of them were as big or as professional as this one, it was definitely a fun and new experience,” said Howe.

In regards to next year’s competition, many members of SkillsUSA have advice for both newcomers and returnees. “Be prepared to put in more than 100 percent and be dedicated to the groups you are in, the more effort you put in the more it pays off,” stated Casanova. “Do not procrastinate, be prepared, and explore every idea you have. My team and I shot down an idea before we truly explored it and that was the idea we ended up using,” added Howe.

Although state competitions for this year are finished, the IET students of MHS continue to polish their skills in preparation for May’s national conference, and for future competitions in SkillsUSA.