Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Putting Skills to the Test | Students Vie for Prizes and Job Market Edge at SkillsUSA Contest

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Putting Skills to the Test | Students Vie for Prizes and Job Market Edge at SkillsUSA Contest

Article excerpt

TECHNICAL SCHOOL

EAST MANATEE -- Working anonymously, with only an assigned number signaling their identity and school affiliation, more than 500 students competed in 50 categories, showing off their job skills under the watchful and critical eyes of industry judges.

Much was at stake for students at the state Region 6 SkillsUSA competition Thursday at Manatee Technical College. Winners received accolades, prizes, an opportunity to advance to the state contest in April and a possible edge when the time comes to find a job.

At a far wing of the school on State Road 70, auto body repair students taped off a car to prepare it for a paint job. Simultaneously, culinary students deboned chickens before cooking them, budding cosmetologists styled hair on mannequins, and appliance repair trainees diagnosed problems in a refrigerator, range, microwave, washer, dryer and dishwasher. Health care-related competitions were at the Lakewood Ranch campus.

Other students, including Bayshore High School junior Makayla Belville, who delivered a speech with a "Champions at Work" theme, showcased their leadership abilities.

"I'm pretty proud of my performance," said Belville, who is trying to repeat her trips to state and national competitions last year.

In addition to Bayshore and MTC, other participating schools from Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Collier and Lee counties were Suncoast Technical College, Cape Coral Technical College, Fort Myers Technical College, Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology, Charlotte Technical Center, DJB Technical Academy and Southeast High School.

Belville's teachers at Bayshore, SkillsUSA advisers Mary Ann Kauffman and Charles Heister, brought 10 other students to the competition to test their skills at customer service, Quiz Bowl, electronics, screenprinting, and urban search and rescue.

"They all are very capable of going to state," Heister said.

Reaching the pinnacle can give a student an edge over other job- seekers. …

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