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.