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SkillsUSA Directs the Biggest Blockbuster this Summer

For full coverage of SkillsUSA's 2008 national conference, including daily photos, stay connected to: www.skillsusa.org

Summer blockbusters spawn sequels, and sequels usually spawn disappointment. SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference is a summer blockbuster, too, but every year, it proves that a sequel can “out-blockbust” its predecessor.

From June 23-27, SkillsUSA students from across the nation will take over Kansas City, Mo., where they’ll bring to life the biggest conference in SkillsUSA history. The SkillsUSA Championships will feature 93 contests, the most ever. SkillsUSA TECHSPO will be teeming with representatives from industry and education. Timberland Pro’s massive annual service project will change lives (maybe yours), and national gold medals will be raised proudly by the most skilled technical students in America.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll tell your friends. And next year, you’ll be back for the sequel.

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Members Through the Roof

The Titanic was found in the North Atlantic. The Oscar for Best Picture went to “Ordinary People,” and the Grammy for Song of the Year went to “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. But there was another reason to remember 1980; it was the year with the highest SkillsUSA membership in history. Until now.

SkillsUSA is proud to announce that 2008 will mark its highest membership totals ever. Although the final number was not available at press time, look for more than 300,000 members when the official announcement is released at: www.skillsusa.org. It’s a great time to be a SkillsUSA member!

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Good Service Deserves to be Recognized

You might immediately know what you would do for yourself with $10,000. But what would you do for others? That was the question the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation posed to SkillsUSA schools applying for $10,000 chapter improvement/education and community service grants, and the answers from the 2008 recipients were as varied as they were ambitious.

For example, the Kankakee Area Career Center in Bourbonnais, Ill., will work with Lowe’s and the school’s various technical programs to build a mobile career demonstration unit that can be used to educate the community at large about SkillsUSA and the importance of career and technical education. Tennessee Technical Center students in Hohenwald, Tenn., will create a fitness trail with exercise stations to promote better physical health in the community.

To read about all the projects that received grants, visit: www.skillsusa.org/educators/lowes.shtml.

By Order of the President
Service usually springs from selflessness, but the president of the United States wants to recognize volunteers just the same. That’s why the Presidential Volunteer Service Award was created, a national honor offered in recognition of sustained service.

Recipients can receive an official lapel pin, personalized certificate of achievement, or a congratulatory letter from the president. For full guidelines on how to apply for this prestigious award, visit: www.skillsusa.org/students/volsvc.shtml.

SkillsUSA is also offering two $1,000 scholarships through the National Technical Honor Society, both of which will be awarded at the national conference in Kansas City this June. For more, go to: www.skillsusa.org/students/nths.shtml. As always, for information on other scholarship opportunities, visit: www.skillsusa.org/students/scholarships.shtml.

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Harley's Revved-up Raffle

The distinctive roar of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle always grabs attention. But what if you could own that roar? Harley’s annual motorcycle raffle will make that possible for one lucky SkillsUSA member. The winner will be chosen at SkillsUSA’s national conference. (You don’t have to be there to win.) The prize? A 2008 Dyna Super Glide, which, thanks to PPG Industries, will receive a custom paint job from Justin Barnes of TV’s “American Chopper.” To buy tickets, visit: www.skillsusa.org/events/harley.shtml. For larger purchases related to fundraisers, contact Chris Powell at 703-737-0621.

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A New Way to Say ‘Hey!’

Don’t you just love technology? Not only does it bring us new opportunities; it also brings us new words, like “webinar.” A webinar, as you might’ve guessed, is a seminar held via the Web, and SkillsUSA held two of them recently to celebrate SkillsUSA Week.

More than 200 participants — representing 35 states — took part, including state directors, teachers and students. Each session ran for 45 minutes and included a brief “state of the association” presentation from Executive Director Tim Lawrence, followed by questions.

Questions were asked about SkillsUSA’s environmental efforts, how SkillsUSA will adjust to the global business economy and more. Stay tuned to www.skillsusa.org for information on future webinars.

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Winner’s Circle: NASCAR Driver Backs SkillsUSA

There’s an old adage that says, “If you want to be the best, surround yourself with the best.” That’s why rising NASCAR star Peyton Sellers recently signed with Andy Santerre Motorsports, one of the top teams on the circuit. It’s also why he’s partnered with SkillsUSA.

Sellers will field the “SkillsUSA Team,” which will be supported by major sponsors. “I’m very excited about being a part of SkillsUSA and getting the word out there,” he says. “I think it’s the best-kept secret in the country right now.”

With his crew, Sellers recently visited SkillsUSA headquarters to announce the partnership (pictured, right, with SkillsUSA Maryland president Keisha West). “Our association with SkillsUSA can bring attention to the benefits it provides to those pursuing a skilled trade,” he adds.

Sellers’ team hopes to attract corporate sponsors through the lure of being associated with an organization that can provide the future workers and leaders industries are desperate for.

Being associated with a driver of Sellers’ caliber is also a major selling point. He won the national championship at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series in 2005 and was named rookie of the year in the West Series in 2006. In 2007, he finished third out of 74 drivers in the Grand National Division Busch East Series, the top developmental series in the country. At only 24 years old, Sellers is primed for a breakthrough, and his team is currently pursuing opportunities in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series.

Sellers plans to visit selected technical schools this year, so look for him — and look for the SkillsUSA logo coming to a NASCAR winner’s circle very soon.

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SkillsUSA Champions | Summer 2008 | Volume 42, No. 4
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