Bartow SkillsUSA leaves impact at state competition
by Mark Andrews
Mar 30, 2013 | 1237 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On the weekend of March 23, students from each Bartow County high school headed to the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta to compete in the annual SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference, with each school having either a team or an individual student place in the top three for the various categories within the event. According to a press release, about 7,000 students, parents, educators and representatives from more than 300 business and trade associations were present for the event.

Local schools placed in the following areas: Adairsville High School’s construction department placed first in the state for Team Works; Matthew Abernathy of Woodland High School placed second in the state for Fire Competitor, with 12 other schools competing. The school also had its tactical department compete; at Cass High School, the welding department won second place in Welding Fabrication and first in Metal Working Display. The cosmetology department won first place in Opening and Closing Ceremony, second place in Nail Design Display and second place in Hair Design Display. The construction department competed in Team Works and Job Skills Demonstration in this year’s event, but did not place in the top three.

According to a press release, “At the event, students and other visitors had the opportunity to explore 13 different ‘worlds,’ including the World of Energy and the World of Construction, in exhibit hall space the size of six football fields. In addition, top high school and technical college construction students in the state also will compete in the SkillsUSA State Championships.

“Georgia Power provided employees from safety, generation, nuclear, transmission, distribution, metering services, engineering, workforce development, energy efficiency and talent acquisition to serve as volunteers in the World of Energy. In addition, other employees assisted [the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia] with other event duties.

“‘Georgia Power understands the importance of reaching out to young people, engaging them and making them aware of careers in the energy sector. They know from an economic development, youth development and workforce development standpoint that it is essential that America’s businesses connect with our young people today,” Scott Shelar, Construction Education Foundation of Georgia executive director, said in a press release. “Georgia Power’s massive involvement in this event is proof positive that they are willing to make the necessary investment.”

With first-place victories, AHS’ construction department and CHS’ Opening and Closing team will be heading to the national competition this June in Kansas City, Mo. The Daily Tribune News spoke with AHS’ construction department on its recent SkillsUSA accomplishment.

“[SkillsUSA] is basically like [Future Farmers of America] is to agriculture,” AHS SkillsUSA Advisor Barry Arrington said. “... Today’s job market is getting real picky because of the fewer jobs out there, so the more skills you have ... makes for a lot better of a chance of getting employment.”

He said having skills in construction, for example, will be helpful for students interested in the field as more skilled craftsmen retire.

“A big workforce turnover is about to happen and right now we don’t even have people who are trained to take the jobs [current craftsmen] are leaving behind,” Arrington said.

He said he appreciates the amount of work and effort his SkillsUSA members have put into their construction classes and in the recent SkillsUSA competition.

“They take it to heart, just like football,” Arrington said. “They take what they learn here and apply it [at the competition] and have to build a structure from start to finish.”

He added, “They want to practice and they want to be as good as they can.”

Junior Barry Arrington Jr. described the project his department had to build as a washroom, which was not presented to the competitors until the day of the competition.

“It was basically an 8-foot-by-4-foot foundation and we had masonry ... we had to lay that all around and then we built a floor on top of that and we put a plate to go down all around it,” he said. “It had two walls, one with a window in it, and then we put those up and put it together and braced it off, and then they threw an addition onto us when we were done with our carpentry and said they would like a front porch on it.

“They gave us these 4-by-4s and we built rafters and made an actual front porch.”

This is the second year in a row for AHS’ SkillsUSA construction department to go on to nationals.

Paul Sabin, who now serves as the CEO for the Bartow County College and Career Academy, said programs like SkillsUSA play an integral role in a student’s academic career.

“Competitions and clubs are such an enhancement to the general curriculum of our Career Technical and Agricultural Education courses,” Sabin said. “Students who get involved and participate in these programs are not only more likely to enjoy school, but they’re also more likely to finish school and have a career pathway.”

He said the school system is proud of its SkillsUSA students and their accomplishments, moving from region to state to national-level competitions.