More than 300 students gathered at the Lake Career and Technical Center in Camdenton last week to compete in specific skill set areas.
"Skills USA District contest is being held at LCTC this year. First time in seven years. There are seven schools in our district and we each take turns hosting it," Bill Kurtz of LCTC said. "We do have six of the tech schools that are eligible here competing, about 30 high schools. That includes LCTC which serves Osage Beach, Macks Creek, Climax Springs and Camdenton high schools."
Skills USA competition includes three parts: hands on skills, leadership/communication and written. LCTC hosted the skills part of the district competition.
"This is the skills competition which means a hands on competition,"Kurtz said. "Those contests asks them all to do something with their hands. They are given a project and they are asked to do it. So, there may be a written test involved but it's not your typical high school exam. It's not just pencil and paper."
The unique part of Skills USA is that all judges are experts in their field. Industry personnel also play a big role in creating the competitions. According to Kurtz the goal of Skills USA is to let industry drive education.
"All of these contests are judged by people in the industry. The rules state that you have three judges per competition and that they are currently employed in the field," Kurtz said.
Not only do students get exposure to industry professionals, but they also get exposure to other students in their field.
"We do competition with our students because it is a great experience for them to see where they stack up against other people their age," Rona Ford, culinary instructor from the Lebanon Technology and Career center said. "Most of the kids we bring to competition are the best in their classes so they are better than everybody else that they are in class with and when they get here and can see what the best of everyone else is. They can have a more realistic view of where they are at. The world is competitive and you've got to get used to that."
Nancy Musice from the Waynesville Career Center brought 29 students. "It hones in on what they need to do for their career and I think employers really appreciate the fact that these students are doing these kind of skills," Musice said.
Many school officials see the impact Skills USA has on their students. "When they might not have known exactly what they wanted to do with their life, I think this lets them see other opportunities," Kelly Byrd, counselor at Lebanon, said.
A total of 340 students competed in competitions ranging from culinary, commercial baking, automotive, welding, graphic design, construction, computers, nursing and etc, 60 or 70 students were from LCTC.
Page 2 of 2 - "They get a more realistic view. It's an eye opening experience for many students," Ford added.
The winners from the district competition will move on to state. Results will be announced at the next phase of competition on Feb. 26.