By Cindy Zomar, Education Coordinator
Region – Annual SkillsUSA competitions among technical and vocational high schools across the country have begun with some modifications due to COVID-19.
Locally, 87 students from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School are participating. Though that’s a decrease from the 125-130 students who normally join this program, according to an advisor, Assabet remains excited about its tradition.
“Things are definitely very different this year,” Assabet SkillsUSA Advisor Kerri Baltramaitis said in recent comments to the Community Advocate. “But we are trying to make the best of it.”
SkillsUSA looms large for students
SkillsUSA tests vocational students through a variety of exams, challenges and presentations.
The first round of this competition has always consisted of written exams. But this year, those all took place online with the individual schools proctoring the students.
Assabet students competed in 20 different program-specific categories, from Advertising & Design to Welding Sculpture. Testing took place through a live Zoom link over a 2.5-hour time frame, specifically focusing on employability skills, safety, and program-specific pieces. The top three highest scoring students in each category received awards.
In total, 26 students ranked high enough after these tests to move on to the next level of SkillsUSA, a state competition. Between fifteen and twenty additional Assabet students will also join the group for several competitions that only happen at the state level.
The students who earned the right to compete at the state level are as follows: Will Schiavone, Nathan Medeiros, Maxwell Sivert, Brenda Damobid, Megan Grusheski, Haylee Parker, Matthew Brinkmann, Aaliya Mangual, Robert Irvine, Ava Matkins, Kelsey True, Mylena Bovo, Fernando Rivera, Lucas Felipe, Aaron DeFaria, Laicee Charette, Any Torres Diaz, Joshua Ogar, Kylee Whitman, Benjamin Nugent, Benjamin Lopes, Catherine Pollard, Kanata Tanaka, Thomas Collins, Henry Christianson, Robert Stewart and Malorie Baldinger.
The state competition is planned to start April 29 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Trade Center in Marlborough.