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.