The 18 students competed in 13 different events including architectural drafting, 3D animation and first aid. The three medalists were Grace Osusky, scoring gold in extemporaneous speaking, Fernando Harrison landing silver in action skills, and Ryan Reed snagging silver in related technical math. In total there were 1,064 competitors from 88 schools, and no splitting of schools into divisions, which meant that 5A schools were going up against 1A schools.
“Preparing for leadership in the world of work” is the motto of Skills USA, a nationwide organization formed in 1965 to train students for a future in trade and technical careers. With around 700,000 members and the support of over 600 different corporations and trade associations, it hosts a number of competitions every year from district-wide to nationals, with a wide range of events, varying between t-shirt design, fire fighting and video production.
Hank Postma, a GCHS teacher of computer and technical classes, is the main advisor for the local Skills USA team. Postma has been connected to the organization since he was in high school.
Derek Hansen, one of the students who competed said, “Everyone there was super friendly and helpful, and after everyone started talking and getting to know each other, there was this group mentality that was full of positivity and people were willing to help each other out.”
Cody Gatlin, a senior at GCHS, said the experience of participating in Skills USA has broadened his educational experience.
“I have participated in Skills USA for my junior and senior years in high school, competing in video production both years with my co-director Lane Lammert, and despite us not placing either year, we enjoyed our experiences with the competition and with our friends,” Gatlin said. “We have learned things that you can’t learn in a classroom. Whether it was planning the video in pre-production, trying to find the perfect place to shoot, or editing it all together and showing it off, we had a blast. If I had to have a regret about Skills USA, it would be that I didn’t start competing sooner. The students who win sometimes will be offered jobs or opportunities that will start them on their way to their dream careers.”