Every two years, a select group of SkillsUSA students gets the opportunity to put their skills to the test against the best in the world. It’s called the WorldSkills Competition (WSC), and it features more than 650 student competitors from 39 countries testing themselves against tough international standards in 39 key trades and technologies.
At this year’s event in Helsinki, Finland, TeamUSA (a small team in comparison to other countries) gave it their all. Members Viviana Zuniga (competing in Hairdressing) and Joel Stanley (Welding) brought home diplomas of honor, which are awarded to contestants scoring over 500 points out of a possible 600.
The next WSC will take place in November 2007 in Shizuoka, Japan. For a full recap of TeamUSA’s experience in Helsinki, including photos, visit: www.skillsusa.org/teamusa.html.
We’ve all been there. It’s been a bad day, nothing’s going right. Suddenly, a check for $645,000 appears in the mailbox, and all is right with the world. OK, maybe we haven’t all been there. But SkillsUSA has. In fact, just such a check recently arrived at the national headquarters courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor, fulfilling their promise of a grant to develop the online Professional Development Program (PDP). This largest cash contribution in SkillsUSA history wouldn’t have been possible without years of hard work taking the SkillsUSA message to Washington, D.C., where our nation’s policy-makers are beginning to understand and believe in SkillsUSA’s mission.
We know. Every year’s recap of SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference sounds the same. “Biggest ever.” “Best in our history.” “Record-setting.” But until someone sends us a thesaurus, you can count on hearing those phrases for a long time to come.
The 2005 NLSC was indeed the biggest and best of all time. College football legend Terry Bowden capped off the Opening Ceremony with a motivational speech on teamwork. The next night saw the first-ever “Champions Festival,” an outdoor social event featuring music and tons of fun activities.
The SkillsUSA Championships were the biggest in history, with nearly 4,700 competitors in 80 contests. Nearly 200 VIPs from business and industry attended the event, including first-time visits by Mercedes-Benz, Lowes, Subaru and more. TECHSPO (129 indoor and outdoor exhibits) and SkillsUSA University (58 seminars) were both bigger than they’ve ever been. The annual community service project was massive, with more than 600 SkillsUSA members volunteering their talents at a variety of area locations.
But, as usual, the highlight was the Awards Ceremony, where a year of intense work paid off in bronze, silver and gold. “Every time I visit the young people of SkillsUSA, it renews my optimism about the future of the country,” said Emily DeRocco, assistant secretary of employment and training for the U.S. Department of Labor.
Relive the conference with SkillsUSA’s 2005 NLSC Video Scrapbook DVD, available at www.skillsusa.org/store/, or check out photos of the event at www.skillsusa.org/nlsc.html. Expect new records to be set next year in Kansas City, June 18-24.
On May 8, SkillsUSA celebrated its 40th birthday. So, does that mean it’s officially over the hill? Hardly.
Since 1965, SkillsUSA has served more than 8.8 million career and technical education students. To commemorate those 40 years, and to honor those who got it all started, SkillsUSA celebrated its first Founder’s Day at the national headquarters in Leesburg, Va.
Thirty-five individuals representing a variety of SkillsUSA generations attended the event, from those who created the organization to those who’ve worked tirelessly in the field to keep it strong. Many hugs were exchanged, life stories were updated, old friendships were reignited, and even a few tears (of joy) were shed.
But what stood out most about the event was the enduring pride shared by all who’ve been and continue to be a part of SkillsUSA: pride for the past, the present, and the future.
“We’ve had students from all cultures, all walks of life. We’ve broken those cultural barriers, and I’m so proud of that,” said Lynn Register Dane, a national officer in 1967 whose daughter joined those ranks in 1988.
But perhaps Bill Prince, a national officer in 1966 who attended the meeting where the organization was founded, said it best: “Here we are, 40 years later, proving that the right decisions were made all those years ago.”
Photos (clockwise from top): Register Dane and Prince with 2004-2005 national officers Bryan Doxford and Carolyn Kimbrel; former SkillsUSA executive director Stephen Denby; students from Bedford (Va.) Science Technology Center, who performed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the event; then board of directors president Don Eshelby of Idaho (left) with Illinois’ Brent Baird, son of founding committee member Phil Baird; Minnie Rodgers, a cosmetology instructor from Texas, representing founding chapter advisors.
SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2005 | Volume 40, No. 1