Thomas Jefferson

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Putting Their Skills to the Test

Posted 04/24/2017 by Kathryn Schroeck

SkillsUSA state qualifiers were filled with excitement for this year's state conference. photo by Jerry Esparza

SkillsUSA returns to the state conference for another big year of competition.

Qualifying Thomas Jefferson members attended the SkillsUSA state conference from April 5th – 7th and competed in their designated categories in attempt to make it to the national competition. The state conference took place in Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak Community College. TJ’s SkillsUSA advisor and CCT teacher Jerry Esparza was able to bring more members for the 2017 competition than in recent years, with a total of 29 members. Qualifiers were able to compete in categories including Programming, Web Design, Video Production, 3D Animation, Photography, Customer Service, and Demonstration A (a how-to presentation on a technical concept.)

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving high school and college teachers and students. The program helps prepare individuals for careers in trade, business, and technology. “SkillsUSA is a competitive platform that helps to better prepare you for the real world industry. It was fun being president for my last year at TJ,” explained senior Asianae Jackson, member and president of TJ’s chapter.

Students departed TJ on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 5th in order to arrive at Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs for the SkillsUSA opening ceremony, kicking off at 6 p.m.. At the ceremony, Thomas Jefferson High School and Esparza both received awards. The SkillsUSA organization at TJ earned the title of  “Chapter of Excellence” for its first year and received the Gold Level for its accomplishments. Esparza also received an award for his seven consecutive years of growth in the program, the most growth awarded out of the advisors at the conference.

A large portion of the competition took place on the day of Thursday, April 6th followed by a social that night including games, prizes, a dance floor, and a dessert bar. Competition ranged from photographing and filming on the hotel grounds to spending hours on a computer designing a website, animating a graphic, or programming software. “Competing was so much fun. Asianae and I worked really well together and we were confident about the website we created and we were looking forward to nationals, but unfortunately, as a team, we are unable to attend,” explained first place Web Design winner, senior Rachel Sadler.

The closing ceremony and awards took place the following day before the Spartans returned to Denver. TJ came home with many awards, including first and second place in Photography, first and third place in Web Design, third place in Video Production, first, second, and third place in Computer Programming, first, second, and third place in 3D Animation, second place in Customer Service, and third place in Demonstration A. Seven TJ students have the opportunity to attend the national conference in Louisville, Kentucky on June 19th through the 24th and five students will be attending: junior Avery Hericks (Photography), sophomore Matthew Bulger (Computer Programing), junior Izzy Ryan (Customer Service),  and senior Hunter Holmes and junior Connor Side (3D Animation). Way to go Spartans!