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GRAND ISLAND – Louisville students in the local SkillsUSA program have made it their mission to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible citizens.

They showcased their talents in those areas during the recent SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference.

Louisville teenagers traveled to Grand Island in April for the annual state convention. More than 2,000 students and advisors from across Nebraska came to Heartland Events Center and Fonner Park for two days of action. Eleven Louisville delegates secured state medals and one teenager was elected to state office.

The SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference features contests in more than 90 leadership and technical categories. Students who finish first in their divisions qualify for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Contest. This year’s national convention will take place June 24-28 in Louisville, Ky.

Seven Lions secured tickets to nationals with championship performances at state. Carsen Knott, Valerie Knott and Isandra Hagge earned one of the school’s titles with their work in the Community Service Project category. Louisville SkillsUSA Advisor Jesse Zweep said Knott, Knott and Hagge soared to the top of state charts by devoting many hours to helping others.

“The team hosted several Red Cross blood drives throughout the year collecting over 180 donations,” Zweep said. “The team also worked with fellow Louisville students Remington Campbell and Max Yarnell to raise awareness and funds for Objective Zero.

“Objective Zero is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and helping veterans combat veteran suicide. Together the team raffled off a donated patriotic turkey feather painted by Rebecca Speer and a frame made by Roger Campbell. All together the team raised over $1,400 to be donated to the Objective Zero organization.”

Julian Covington, Jaylin Gaston and Garron Bragg brought a state title home to Louisville with their efforts in the Promotional Bulletin Board category. The three Lions designed a bulletin board based on the 2018-19 SkillsUSA national theme of “SkillsUSA: Champions at Work, Career-Ready Starts Here.”

“The focus of the project is to promote SkillsUSA to student members and to communicate important information for students involved in local SkillsUSA chapters,” Zweep said. “The team also had to assemble a portfolio and be interviewed by a team of judges.”

Reiley Reed captured a state championship in the Customer Service contest. Zweep said Reed used her energetic and thoughtful personality to earn a gold medal.

“The purpose of the contest evaluates students’ proficiency in providing customer service,” Zweep said. “The contest involves live role-playing situations. Contestants demonstrate their ability to perform customer service in both written and oral forms including telephone and computer skills, communications, problem solving, conflict resolution and business etiquette.”

Two Louisville students earned third place in their state divisions. Parker Manley captured a bronze medal in the Extemporaneous Speaking category. Students had to give speeches ranging from three to five minutes on an assigned topic. Contest judges gave students their topic and then allowed them five minutes to prepare. They evaluated contestants on voice, mechanics, organization, effectiveness and comfort level on stage.

Michael Rupp earned third place in the Medical Terminology contest. Students had to display their knowledge of medical terminology and abbreviations to judges. Many teenagers preparing for employment in health occupations fields joined Rupp in the event.

Lea Kalkowski and Allison Smith both earned medals in state-only contests for Louisville. Zweep said state-only contests are for students who choose not to compete at the national level. They follow the same rules and guidelines as contests that include a national-level option.

Kalkowski earned first place in the state-only Extemporaneous Speaking category. The state-only contest mirrored the national-level division. Kalkowski had to prepare a speech in five minutes on an assigned topic and deliver it in front of judges.

Smith earned second place in the state-only Job Interview category. Students had to participate in three phases for the contest: completion of employment applications, preliminary interviews with a receptionist and in-depth interviews with potential employers. Judges evaluated them on their understanding and knowledge of the interview process for various occupations.

Louisville students participated in a variety of other state contests. Remington Campbell, Max Yarnell and Jed McFarland competed in the Welding Fabrication division for Louisville. Teams had to build items for judges using their welding and cutting skills.

Ethan Michalski took part in the Technical Drafting contest. Students had to use their skills in technical drafting to complete projects for judges. These skills included knowledge in computer-aided drafting programs and processes.

Two Louisville teams competed in the Crime Scene Investigation category. Kalkowski, Smith and Hagge formed one squad and Skyler Pollock, Faye Jacobsen and Madison Nolte comprised a second team. They had to process a fictitious crime scene by legally searching for and removing evidence of a crime. They also lifted fingerprints from an item, marked evidence and wrote a report of their findings.

Jaylin Gaston took part in the Medical Math division. Contestants had to demonstrate knowledge of general math concepts used in healthcare fields. A written test featured questions on dosage calculation, ratio/proportion concepts, Roman numerals, abbreviations, metric and household equivalents and math percentages.

Cassidy Niemoth participated in the Commercial Baking state contest. Students had to scale, mix, prepare and bake products and demonstrate cake-decorating skills. Some of the products they had to create included breads, rolls, cookies and pies.

Yarnell was elected to a spot as a SkillsUSA Nebraska state officer at the convention. He had to give a speech in front of 140 student delegates and participate in a question-and-answer session.

Yarnell will represent Nebraska as a voting delegate at the national conference. He will help plan and coordinate three local conferences in 2019-20 and will serve as a statewide ambassador for the program. His ambassadorial work will include visiting many business and industry leaders across Nebraska.

Fifteen Louisville students earned the SkillsUSA Academic Achievement Award for owning a minimum grade point average of 3.50 on a 4.0 scale. Campbell, Covington, Gaston, Jacobsen, Kalkowski, Carsen Knott, Valerie Knott, McFarland, Michalski, Niemoth, Pollock, Reed, Rupp, Smith and Yarnell all captured the honor.

Covington, Michalski, Reed, Rupp and Yarnell also earned the Distinguished Ambassador Award. Students who attended all three SkillsUSA Nebraska conferences during the year received the honor. This included the Fall Leadership Conference, Mid-America Leadership Conference and State Leadership and Skills Conference.

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