CTSO Brings it Home


(Photo courtesy of Junior Casey Correa) Young students maneuver their Lego robots through various food-related missions in the latter part of the FIRST Lego League District Tournament.

Jenna Nakanishi

     From Feb. 21 to the 23, the SkillsUSA, Distributive Education Club of America (DECA), Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) clubs competed in the Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) competition, which consists of numerous events in different categories that are designed to test specific job or trade focused skills.

    “Having the chance to compete and lead my school into this competition has been an amazing experience and opportunity to see where my fellow students and I can apply our skills to bring our schools teams upwards,” said SkillsUSA President Senior Nicholas Shaw.

    For each participating club, the way in which they compete is different and caters to the professional focus of their respective organizations. For SkillsUSA, this focus is technology based, for DECA it’s business, for HOSA it’s healthcare, and for FCCLA it’s public and human services. “Each student chooses an event based on their interest, whether it be a team or individual event,” said HOSA President Senior Maya Kirihara. “On the day of competition, we all go to our designated testing areas and then after that’s done, there are symposiums and round tables that students are able to go to. The following day is the awards ceremony and that’s when we find out if we placed in our event.”

    Despite the differences in competing, each club has a similar goal to win medals for Mililani and get the most that they can out of the experience. “My goal for this competition was to see as many of SkillsUSA Mililani receive a medal as possible. Each of my members has a talent to showcase, and I strongly believe that each deserves to be rewarded for their determination to win and hard work. With the competition behind us, I would consider this goal accomplished,” said Shaw. Kirihara added, “My goal for this club was to make sure that everyone had a good time and had a new learning experience. I hope that the underclassmen take this experience and learn from it so they can  improve next year at competition.”

    For DECA, the experience was a little different in that they did not have as much experience in the competition as other groups. “I think the goal for the club was to get back out there and challenge ourselves because the last time Mililani DECA competed was, I believe, in 2010,” said DECA President Senior Chance Castro-Wong. “I personally wanted to show everyone that we are Mililani High School and we’re here to kill it and represent.”

    While the specific ways in which the students prepare for the competition are different, depending on the organization they are competing with, the process is generally similar. “To prepare for the competition, our students train outside of class within our specific categories to make sure we understand the theory and application of our competition,” said Shaw. This training can include reading textbooks or doing presentations depending on the event the student is competing in. Kirihara added, “The day before our competition, we all basically study all night at the hotel.”

    During this preparation, the students encounter numerous challenges that they must overcome before competing. “The biggest problem that we faced was stress and anxiety from the pressures we put on ourselves and the feelings of self doubt in our abilities. I believe, however, that as we pushed forward into the competition, those who were originally worried were inspired and determined after seeing their fellow team members show confidence in themselves,” said Shaw.

    The challenges faced made the experience of the competition even more memorable. “I’m very proud of everyone for dedicating themselves to this competition. Although everyone was very anxious, we all persevered and tried our best,” said Castro-Wong. Kirihara added, “I am so proud of everyone in my club. Many of us placed in the top three this year and will be going to nationals in Texas. I also feel like everyone became closer as friends and that makes me so happy. Even though some of us didn’t place, we all tried our best and made memories and that’s all that really matters in the end.”

    By the conclusion of the competition, a total of 13 HOSA members, three DECA members, 24 SkillsUSA members and seven FCCLA members won medals. The national competitions will be held across the nation over the summer, ranging from Texas, to Georgia, to Kentucky.