Students show off their 'Skills'

| Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 10:29 a.m.

One portion of the annual Skills USA competition was held at the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Career Center, inviting dozens of students to compete in their fields of study.

The Connellsville center played host last week to eight schools in District 9, which includes the western and southwestern part of Pennsylvania.

“We have students competing from the 10th, 11th and 12th grades,” Skills adviser Kahla Daniels said, explaining that each of the different courses of study offered at the CACTC has one student to represent the school in the Skills competition. “The technical teachers decide who they feel their strongest students are and then they compete.”

Students spent the day completing demonstrations for the competition while judges observed, then graded, the students on their knowledge and their performance.

The competition is also a great way for the students to learn to apply their education toward achieving excellence in their chosen fields, Daniels noted.

“This gives them confidence and it also teaches them how to compete in a friendly way. It's also a great way for them to showcase what they have learned,” she said.

Students spent time preparing for the big day by going over their demonstrations and tweaking their skills.

“We practiced and studied what we had to do,” explained Codey Overly, 17, of Connellsville, who competed with teammates James Guthrie, 16, and Shawn Peck, 17, in the CSI portion of the competition. “We collected evidence and took fingerprints and processed the scene. I really enjoyed it.”

The second part of the competition will take place on Wednesday at the Fayette County Career and Technical Center, Uniontown. Afterwards, overall winners will be announced at a special assembly on Thursday.

The first-place winners will have an opportunity to compete at the state level in the spring at Hershey.

“We have had several students advance to the state level in the past years,” Skills adviser Tiffany Riggen said, adding that a student also recently was sent to the national level for competition.

Medals will be awarded to the top three in each of the courses represented.

“This is a good motivator for the students,” Daniels said. “They know if they work hard enough that it could result in a trip to Hershey for them.”

Daniels added that she is happy to see the interest the competition has generated.

“It's really nice to see people from the district take an interest in this,” Daniels said. “We have good support and it would be great for everyone to really see what we do up here.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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