SkillsUSA attends State Conference

Madison Ritz, Staff Writer

Say the name “SkillsUSA” at Manhattan High and many people think of a club for automotive technology students.

But MHS students saw firsthand that it’s so much more when they competed in six of the dozens of categories at the state competition at Hutchinson Community College last week. Two of those SkillsUSA members won gold medals.

Photo by Hailey Eilert
Senior Zach Payne plays on a virtual reality gaming system while waiting for his competition to begin at the Skills USA Kansas Championship. Six MHS students left for Hutchinson Kansas on April 23 to compete against other students, two of the six students took first place in their competitions with gold medals.

While at the state competition, students have the chance to meet several different people around the state.

“They meet kids from all over the state, they get to talk to them, exchange phone numbers, share notes and ask questions about other competitions,” SkillsUSA sponsor Christopher Collins said. “That’s probably the first thing I take away from it, is the networking from the members.”

Photo courtesy of Kristy Nyp
Junior Jacoby Kerr answers questions in the written portion of the automotive contest at state SkillsUSA on Thursday. Kerr spent all day working through 16 stations set up in the automotive shop at Hutchinson High School’s technology center, while judges evaluated his performance.

SkillsUSA had a range of 94 competitions students could compete in. Junior Jacoby Kerr competed in Automotive Service Technology, junior Angela Miller competed and won gold in Medical Math, sophomore Dominic Palmeri competed and won gold for Customer Service, senior Zach Payne competed in Contemporary Speech, junior Payton Day competed in Medical Terminology and for the first time this year, junior Hailey Eilert competed in Cosmetology.

Photo courtesy of Kristy Nyp
Junior Hailey Eilert detangles the hair of her male mannequin during one round of the cosmetology contest at state SkillsUSA on Thursday. Eilert competed at Hutchinson Community College’s cosmetology center, along with secondary and post-secondary students from across Kansas.

“I have to say, I was totally amazed because my members, I know they’re all terrific,” Collins said. “We had two gold medals this year in events we had never competed in before.”

After winning two gold medals, Manhattan High’s SkillsUSA qualifies for the National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, which will take place in June.

Last week’s trip went from Tuesday through Friday. The competition didn’t start until Wednesday of that week, but Collins wanted his students to have a day to relax.

“My goal this competition, … [for] first time members and first-time competitors,” Collins said. “[was for] them to be as relaxed as possible.”

While the trip did provide the opportunity for participants to test their skill in their competition, Collins felt that a new location could have improved the experience and provide a new experience.

“[If I had to change anything about this trip], maybe the location,” Collins said. “I enjoy going to the community college, but maybe giving the students the opportunity to see something different each year would be alright.”

Over all, SkillsUSA members were happy with their placements and considered the competition a success.

“[I’d say this year was] successful, highly successful,” Collins said. “We were there to learn and to get better at whatever skill they were displaying there.”