3D Competition- 2020

Prompt: Texting and Driving.
Dialogue: Responsible & Irresponsible

First Place: Frances B & Maya R

Second Place: Phoenix E & Fransisco M

Third Place: Owen M & Deacon T

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Video Competition 2020

Prompt: Take Flight.
Dialogue: I’m Ready to fly to new Heights.
Prop:Air Plane

First Place: Ryan G & John G

Second Place: Antony M & Mohamed A

Third Place: Dalton W & Alfredo G

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Competition Results 2019

3D Animation

1st Place: Jackson and Ismaiel
2nd Place: Jack and Owens
3rd Place: Kevin and David
4th Place: Clair and Ashley
5th Place: Owen and Derrick
6th Place: Jared and Lucas
7th Place: Francisco and Calsten
8th Place: Maya and Francis
9th Place: Cason and Seth
10th Place: Kaleb and Dalton
11th Place: Dana and Diana
12th Place:Camryn and Troi
13th Place: Enrique and Jonathan
14th Place: Jaylon and Antonio

Web Design

1st Place: Noah and Nick
2nd Place: Mitch and Wesley
3rd Place: JaNessa and Lydia
4th Place: Abby and Chris
5th Place: Kia and Yoon
6th Place: Andrea and Monika

Video- Digital Cinema

1st Place: Ben and Grace
2nd Place: Tim and Ryan C
3rd Place: Hunter and Jon
4th Place: Kage and Austin
5th Place Hector and Eyad


1st Place: Lauren
2nd Place: Zack
3rd Place: Jose
4th Place: Olivia (Alternate)

T- Shirt and Pin Design

1st Place:
2nd Place:

Computer Programming

1st Place:
2nd Place:
3rd Place:
4th Place:

Quiz Bowl Team

Eva L
Aidan B
Matthew B
Ava W
Jack M

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Bringing Home The Gold

TJ repeated success at the SkillsUSA state conference.

The SkillsUSA chapter at Thomas Jefferson High School returned to the state conference with more competitors than in previous years. TJ’s in-house competition qualified 41 members for state, providing them with the opportunity to attend the conference. The conference took place from April 18th through the 20th in Colorado Springs, at the Hotel Elegante. TJ competed in technical and leadership contests which included Broadcasting, Computer Programming, Web Design, Video Production, 3D Animation, Photography, T-shirt Design, Entrepreneurship, Interactive Video Game Development, and Demonstration A (a how-to presentation on a technical concept).

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization that empowers its members to become world-class workers. The organization prepares students for careers in trade, business, and technology. This program was brought to TJ by CCT teacher and SkillsUSA advisor Jerry Esparza in 2009, and it has been in place since then. This year’s state conference was different from any other year TJ participated in, due to an increase in TJ medalists, new awards received, and new state officer positions.

Last year, TJ received the title of a “Chapter of Excellence” on the Gold Level for the first time at the state conference, and went on to advance that title this year, qualifying for nationals. Esparza also received an award at the state conference for eight years of consecutive growth within his chapter, the most years awarded out of all the advisors at the conference. TJ earned another first when juniors and chapter officers Jack McCord and Matthew Bulger ran for state officer positions. “I ran for state officer to put TJHS on the map, we’ve never had a state officer before,” said McCord. Both nominees were voted into roles on the Colorado state SkillsUSA officer team, and will serve as state officers next school year for the first time in TJ history.

In order to qualify for the national conference, competitors must earn first place at the state level. More TJ students earned medals then in previous years, with 26 students receiving first through third place titles. Ten students placed first, including Bulger in Computer Programming, seniors Daniel Medina and Nathan Vaughn in 3D Animation, junior Miles Harrison in Photography, seniors Katie Schroeck and Luis Merlin-Vergara in Web Design, and seniors Avery Hericks, Cecelia Allen, Ariel Shunneson, and Laura Brandon in Broadcasting. Six of these qualifiers will attend the national conference in Louisville, Kentucky from June 25th through the 29th. “The fact that what I accomplish at state and nationals directly reflects on me, my college applications, and my school, is the biggest motivation for doing well,” described Bulger.

The Spartan chapter introduced a new yearly banquet at TJ, where award winners will be recognized. The banquet will take place on May 18th and celebrate state qualifiers, medalists, and families. Hopes are high that TJ will continue to receive more awards and medals in years ahead. Congratulations to the Spartans who attended and found great success at the SkillsUSA state conference.

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Regional- In-house Competition 2018

Photography: 1st Place: Jackson Reid

Photography: 2nd Place:  Miles Harrison

Photography: 3rd Place:  Tim Bulger

Video Cinema: 1st Place: Landon Cramer & James Oss

Video Cinema: 2nd Place: Joan Lindsey & William Schultz

Video Cinema: 3rd Place: Zach Service & Aidan Maloof

Video Cinema: Alternate: Kyle Moe & Josh Raykin

3D Animation: 1st Place: Conner Side & Jack McCord

3D Animation: 2nd Place: Daniel Medina & Nathan Vaughn

3D Animation: 3rd Place: Jackson Moore & Lucas Carlson

3D Animation: Alternate: Cory Spielman & Harrison Seremet

Computer Programming: 1st Place: Matt Bulger

Computer Programming: 2nd Place: Nate Brill

Computer Programming: 3rd Place: Grant Junkermeier 

Computer Programming: Alternate: Kaleb Pittman

Web Design: 1st Place: Kate Overn & Nick VanWagner


Web Design: 2nd Place: Tie:

Katie Schroeck/Liza Boronikhina

Noah Mitz/ Grace Leonard

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Holiday Pot-lock- 2017

The annual Holiday pot-lock was a big success. Over 60 students attended the event. Julie Wright, State director for SkillsUSA also attended the event as a guest speaker.

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Fall Conference 2017

SkillsUSA Officers

SkillsUSA students learn about future careers during a tour of the Industrial Training Center. photo courtesy of Jerry Esparza

Spartans attend the 2017 SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference.

On October 11, CCT teacher Jerry Esparza took six TJ students to The Industrial Company (TIC) Training Center in Aurora, Colorado, for this year’s SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference. TJ’s chapter officers were personally invited to the conference, while chapter members had an open invitation. Chapter Presidents and seniors Avery Hericks and Katie Schroeck, Vice President and senior Conner Side, Secretary and senior Grace Leonard, Public Relations Officer and junior Jack McCord, and chapter member and senior Maia Freedberg had the opportunity to gain leadership skills to better themselves for their big year in SkillsUSA. Schools from across Colorado attended the conference, allowing TJ to not only learn from the speakers’ presentations, but also from other SkillsUSA chapters across the state. “It was interesting to hear about how other schools get involved within their communities through fundraisers, community service projects, and social events through SkillsUSA,” Hericks explained.

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization that aids high school and college students in preparing for careers in trade, business, and technology. The chapter at TJ has been active for the past ten years, led by Esparza. “[SkillsUSA] provides resources and curriculum to help students develop skills to become leaders and develop soft-skills for the workplace,” Esparza said. Students within TJ’s chapter organize community service projects, public events, and work in public relations. While all of Esparza’s students are registered for SkillsUSA, all CCT students are encouraged to join the program.

The Spartans traveled to Aurora in the CTE Activity Bus, provided by CTE Partnership Coordinator, Danny Showers. Upon arrival at TIC, students were welcomed with a breakfast bar, providing them with energy they would need throughout their day. Following an opening speech given by SkillsUSA State Director Julie Rife, high school and post-secondary students from across Colorado attended breakout sessions specific to their chapters.

TJ began with a session based on the SkillsUSA Chapter of Excellence Program. Last year TJ was the only school honored as a Chapter of Excellence in the gold level at the state conference. This session trained new students on writing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) Goals, which TJ’s officers will be producing later in the year in attempt to keep their title. Students then moved on to their second session, which included a tour of the TIC Center. During this tour, Spartans got to experience what typically goes on at this year’s location, including the construction that takes place within TIC. After lunch, TJ attended their last session, focused on this year’s SkillsUSA theme, “Job Ready Day One.” Because over twenty percent of new hires get let go from a job within their first ninety days, a presentation was given to all SkillsUSA members about how to keep a job long term, especially by keeping up professionalism and preparation in effort to enforce this year’s theme.

This year’s SkillsUSA Leadership Conference provided Spartans a brand new experience with other members from across the state, unlike previous years, with more involved presentations. Hopes are high that the new leadership skills the officer team gained will benefit the chapter in the months ahead.

Credit: TJ Journal: Katie Schroeck

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TJ SkillsUSA Compete Nationally 2017

TJ’s SkillsUSA team kills it at the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky.

After finding success at the SkillsUSA State Conference last spring, Thomas Jefferson High School had the chance to bring five students to Louisville, Kentucky to compete at the national level. In order to attend the National Conference from June 19th through the 24th, members had to receive first place at the state competition. The SkillsUSA State Conference was held in Colorado Springs in April, where current senior Avery Hericks, junior Matthew Bulger, former Spartan Isabelle Ryan, senior Conner Side, and recent graduate Hunter Holmes received first place medals, qualifying TJ for the national conference.

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization at TJ open for students enrolled in the CCT Magnet program, and its goal is to prepare students for careers in trade, business, and technology. CCT teacher Jerry Esparza introduced SkillsUSA to TJ ten years ago and has been the advisor of the chapter ever since. Esparza described, “I love the spirit of SkillsUSA because they put students first and it is all about helping students get to the next level as they prepare for life beyond high school. In a world that is ever changing and advancing in technology, SkillsUSA is training students to be champions at work.”

While TJ did not bring back any medals from Nationals, competitors were still successful and had a great time. Holmes and Side placed sixth in 3D Animation, Bulger took ninth in Computer Programming, Ryan earned eighteenth in Customer Service, and Hericks received twenty-seventh in photography. “It was amazing to be able to compete against such impressive people, and it was eye-opening to see their passion erupt while taking photos,” Hericks explained.

Over 16,000 people attended the National Conference, including students, teachers, and business partners. The opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, June 20th, commencing the competitions. Over one hundred hands-on competitions took place between middle school, high school, and college/post secondary students. The conference came to an end following the closing ceremony and awards ceremony on Friday, June 23rd.

Hericks and senior Katie Schroeck are returning to TJ’s chapter as this year’s co-presidents with aid from new chapter officers including Side and Bulger along with senior Grace Leonard and junior Jack McCord. Hopes are high that with this student leadership, TJ can accomplish the same success at the State Conference this April and return to Louisville next summer.

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