North Hills, A.W. Beattie students advance to SkillsUSA state competition

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Four North Hills Senior High School and A.W. Beattie Career Center students are participating in the 2013 SkillsUSA state competition in April.

Senior Bonnie Adamiak, a cosmetology student; junior Allison Cross, who is enrolled in the preschool teaching-assistant program; and juniors Brittney Gill and Kaitlin Bigley, both advertising-design students, will compete during the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania Leadership and Skill Championships, which are April 3 to 5 in Hershey.

“They're prepared to take the skills they've acquired at North Hills and at Beattie and merge those together to be competitive on the state level,” said John Kreider, North Hills Senior High principal.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry leaders with the mission to empower its members in more than 13,000 school chapters to become world-class workers and leaders. Competitors at states will have a chance to advance to the SkillsUSA 49th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

Adamiak, 17, won first place in the SkillsUSA district-level cosmetology competition by duplicating men's and women's haircuts from photos onto mannequins. A third part of the competition had students style long hair into an “updo.”

To help students prepare, they were given three photos of possible haircuts for each of the two cuts that were part of the competition. Adamiak said she practiced all of the cuts so she would be ready for whichever photos were chosen on the day of the competition.

“By looking around at the other mannequins, I could tell I was doing well, but I didn't think I would get first place,” said Adamiak, of Ross.

The competition structure at the state level will have students doing haircuts from photos they don't get to see ahead of time, as well as dyeing hair and demonstrating techniques such as the application of a hair relaxer, Adamiak said.

“I'm also practicing from pictures on the Internet, so I will be able to look at any haircut and get it perfect,” Adamiak said.

After she graduates from high school and A. W. Beattie in the spring, Adamiak said, she plans to take the certification test for her cosmetology license and work in a hair salon.

Cross, 16, won first place in the SkillsUSA district-level preschool teaching-assistant competition and had to prepare a lesson plan based on a children's book she chose and read on the day of competition.

Students also had to use their lesson plan for a group of children brought in for the competition by SkillsUSA.

At the state competition, students will be given a topic and then have 60 to 90 minutes to prepare a lesson plan, said Cross, of Ross.

“They could give us anything from art to music to science to even food and health,” Cross said.

Students then will be judged on how well they teach their lesson plan to either children or adults sitting in as children. Although she can prepare lesson plans quickly, Cross said, she is not sure what to expect.

“I don't know anyone personally who has competed in the area I'm competing in,” Cross said. “I'm kind of going into it blind.”

Gill and Bigley, both 16, competed in a local competition held by A. W. Beattie last fall, in which they had to design a brand logo for a product, said Heather Brown, advertising design instructor at Beattie.

Any advertising-design student can enter the competition, and of the 38 enrolled students, about a dozen entered the contest, which was judged by two graphic-design professionals, Brown said.

Gill, of Ross, and Bigley, of West Wiew, finished second and third in the local competition, but Brown chose them to work together and compete in states.

“Those two (Gill and Bigley) were really excited about the local competition,” Brown said. “I didn't want to completely dash their hopes, so I gave them an alternate (competition).”

The first-place winner in the Beattie competition, a student from Shaler Area High School, competed in districts but did not place, Brown said.

At the state level, Gill and Bigley will design and complete a 2-foot-by-3-foot board with some type of illustration that reflects the theme “Champions at Work: Prepared with the Skills America Needs.”

The board must be completed before the competition, and a five- to seven-minute oral presentation on how the board reflects the theme will be given in front of judges at states, Brown said.

“I think the presenting itself is going to be the hardest,” Gill said. “Only one of us can present the board to the judges.”

North Hills sophomore Tessa Dilts placed second in the model category of cosmetology in the Skills-USA district-level competition but did not advance to states.

About 100 North Hills students attend A.W. Beattie, Kreider said.

“There is a common interest from the students to be competitive as a group and move forward to demonstrate their skills on a higher level,” Kreider said.

Melanie Donahoo is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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