Lincoln-Way students compete and medal in State SkillsUSA Contest
Thursday, April 26, 2018

From April 19 through April 21, 2018, seventeen Lincoln-Way Students competed in the State SkillsUSA Contest, hosted in Springfield, Illinois. Contestants earned their right to compete through taking qualification exams. Only the top scoring contestants were invited to participate at the state level.

"To be in the top, students must be well versed on content knowledge in order to pass the qualification exams,” says Daymon Gast, who is the Lincoln-Way Central SkillsUSA Advisor. “Once they arrive at state, they must apply their knowledge. The student who is well-rounded in his education has the competitive advantage.”

SkillsUSA's mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. SkillsUSA improves the quality of America's skilled workforce through a structured program of citizenship, leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training. SkillsUSA’s statewide membership is at an all-time high, as fourteen new school chapters opened in the last year alone.

Competitors from Lincoln-Way Central competed in four categories, both individually and as groups. The Knight competitors and their categories were:
• Jonas McKenna: Welding Sculpture
• Codey Underwood, Andy Bueshel and Wyatt Grady: Welding Fabrication
• Juan Manrique, Austin Zaker and Samuel Huish: Welding Fabrication
• Arley Coleman: Job Skills Demonstration
• Reece Wirtz: Automotive Technology
Competitors from Lincoln-Way East competed in Welding Fabrication. The Griffin group competitors included:
• Mario Brcik, Noah Antoniazzi and Devlin Lynch: Welding Fabrication
Competitors from Lincoln-Way West competed in three categories, both individually and as groups. The Warrior competitors and their categories were:
• Greg Dziubek : Automotive Technology
• Josh Davis: Electrical
• Anthony Grande, Matisse Dodaro-Mol and Quinn Burke: Welding Fabrication

After much practice and guidance throughout the year, the Lincoln-Way East team of Brcik, Antoniazzi and Lynch placed third in state for Welding Fabrication.

“I couldn't have been prouder of all my welding guys who made the sacrifices to come to the State contest to compete,” says Gast, who oversees both the Central and East welding shops. The 2018 competition marks the first time Lincoln-Way students have competed at the state level under Gast’s guidance. “Winning third place in state feels wonderful,” he says.

For their third place finish, Brcik, Antoniazzi and Lynch each won $7,500 in college scholarships; Ohio Technical College (Cleveland, Ohio) awarded each of the Griffins $5,000 and Lincoln College of Technology (Melrose Park, Illinois) awarded the students $2,500. Additionally, Brcik, Antoniazzi and Lynch each secured prizes that included welding equipment, welding technical textbooks and project resource guides.

The weekend was made extra special by additional activities in which all Lincoln-Way students were able to partake. The entire group received a guided tour of Springfield; students visited the State Capitol building with both the House and the Senate in session. Other highlights included a social dance and delegate sessions.

"I met a lot of nice people there, including connections I will be able to use in my future,” says senior Knight Jonas McKenna.

SkillsUSA aims to decrease the gap in the workforce. “Students enrolled in Career and Technical Education courses can feel very proud to be in these classes at this time in our nation’s history,” says Gast. “Students have no idea until they come to the state contest just how much support there is for them.”

"SkillsUSA gives students a great opportunity to compete at the state level vs other high school students in many vocational areas,” says Lincoln-Way West SkillsUSA Advisor, Jason Visny. “Students gain confidence in their given area, along with potential job opportunities and scholarship offers. Placing first in state competition allows students to move on the national level to test their skills against students from across the country."

More than 600 business, industry and labor organizations actively support SkillsUSA at the national level through financial aid, in-kind contributions and involvement in SkillsUSA activities. Many more work directly with state associations and local chapters. Commitment by industry to the annual national SkillsUSA Championships is valued at more than $36 million.

"It was a fun experience,” says Senior Knight Codey Underwood. “I wish I would have started as a sophomore so that I could come back and compete. The facilities and the outpouring of support for us down there were great. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested.”

Any student enrolled in District 210 may become a competitor in SkillsUSA. Students are encouraged to talk with their counselors, teachers or their school's student activities coordinator for information on how to join.