SkillsUSA competes at national level

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

SUBMITTED PHOTO From left, Josh Barron, Nikki Hughes, Brian Lareau, Krishna Patel and Max Lee made up the SkillsUSA team.

From left, Josh Barron, Nikki Hughes, Brian Lareau, Krishna Patel and Max Lee made up the SkillsUSA team.

It may have been their first year as a SkillsUSA team, but the students who represented Pike County in the national competition say they are proud of what they were able to accomplish.

The SkillsUSA team returned Saturday from the National Competition, and while the students didn’t place in the top 10, SkillsUSA sponsor Kim Sellers said she was incredibly proud of the effort and work her team had put through the course of the year.

“It was kind of eye-opening to see how much they were interested in the competition and how much they enjoyed it and how much fun they had,” Sellers said. “They really put forth a lot of effort and they were really proud of themselves. It was really great to see that. I think their attitudes were that they were able to show the state of Alabama what Pike County students are really capable of. Going to nationals for them was big. A lot of them hadn’t been really outside of Georgia, Florida or the state of Alabama, and they were just amazed.”

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The team was comprised of Brian Lareau, a recent graduate of Charles Henderson High School; Krishna Patel, CHHS graduate; Max Lee, rising senior at CHHS; Josh Barron, Goshen High School graduate; and Nikki Hughes, rising junior at GHS.

Lareau said while this was his first year with the SkillsUSA team he was thankful he had taken a chance on the competition team.

“It’s a great experience,” Lareau said. “On the plus side, if you make it to nationals you get to meet a lot of people … Even if it isn’t your competition, it’s still a lot of fun to watch the competitions. You really learn more about other skill-type jobs, and sometimes you can find that maybe you’re interested in something else instead. It gives you a way to figure out what you’re interested in.”

The team competed in the Quiz Bowl challenges, and Lareau said members had dedicated themselves to studying for the general knowledge competitions going so far to hold late-night quiz sessions the week leading into national competition.

“Since it’s nationals, it was way more difficult than just the state competition,” Lareau said. “If you knew a lot more about Alabama at state, it was easier. At nationals you pretty much had to know nationwide information and a little worldwide information. A couple of nights before the competition, we stayed up a little later just to research current event quizzes.”

Sellers said SkillsUSA can seem like just fun and games when students are working to quiz each other and expand their general knowledge base, but the organization seeks to instill practical trade skills into the students’ lives.

“A lot of people expect everyone to go to college, but there are thousands of jobs where we need skilled laborers like welders or wood working, so Skills makes sure that there is a skilled workforce,” Sellers said. “Skills ensures that students learn skills they need to be able to get a job. One of the most important things is that they have a job for a future that will provide for their life.”