Elma High School students head to Atlanta for SkillsUSA event

With the workforce being a pinnacle staple of society, one of the hardest parts of work is simply getting prepared for it. Whether it’s a student fresh out of school or someone switching careers, everyone must learn skills and habits to not only get a job, but to also keep one.

For a select group of students from East County, those skills and habits are taking them to compete nationally in SkillsUSA.

Ten students from Elma High School will take part in the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC) that will be held in Atlanta from June 20 through June 24. The students are getting the opportunity to compete nationally after winning their contests across the state of Washington.

The NLSC consists of more than 6,500 students competing in a variety of hands-on or leadership contests. Elma High School will be competing in the Chapter Business Procedures, Promotional Bulletin Board, and Job Interview categories.

Tyler Renz, who serves as the SkillsUSA Advisor for Elma High School, said he is excited to be going back to Nationals and thinks this is a great opportunity for students to develop skills that will help them in their lives after school.

“This is third time in the last four years that we’ve sent students to compete in SkillsUSA Nationals, which is a big thanks to our CTE (Career and Technical Education) program,” said Renz via phone call. “The biggest thing that these kids are doing is that they’re developing not only workplace skills but leadership skills in the real world. The goal is to get them prepared as the next generation going into the workforce.”

Founded in 1965, SkillsUSA is recognized by the U. S. Department of Education and the U. S. Department of Labor as a successful model of employer-driven youth development training. There are nearly 14 million members since being created and see an average of more than 300,000 students every year.

According to the CTE Director for Elma School District Christi Kershaw, these programs are pivotal to helping Elma students have more opportunities.

“We want our students to have every opportunity available to them to succeed whether it’s FFA (Future Farmers of America), CTE, or the apprenticeship programs we’re working hard to provide.” Kershaw said.

The biggest team competition that Elma students will be competing in is the Chapter Business Procedures. This competition is designed to evaluate a chapter’s ability to conduct regular SkillsUSA business meetings on a professional stage. Of the six students representing Elma high school, this competition will feature Torrey Thompson, Lindsey Blackett, Lillian Bossard, Delayne Hanson, Kara Heley and Samuel Gillis.

The Promotional Bulletin Board contest, which pins local SkillsUSA chapters to promote the organization and CTE information in the most influential way, will be represented by Nancy Ramirez, Olivia Niemi and Payton Simmons. The last contest that Elma will be participating in is the Job Interview competition, which will be represented by Grace Smith. This competition serves to evaluate students’ understanding of employment procedures that they will face in real world occupational areas.

Although Smith will be competing in the Job Interview contest, she will also be competing for a spot on the SkillsUSA National Officers team. National officers, who are elected each year at the NLSC, represent SkillsUSA students across the country and serve a one-year term.