SkillsUSA building character at SciotoTech

By Ryan Ottney

October 5, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Students participating in the SkillsUSA program at Scioto County Career Technical Center (SciotoTech), in Lucasville, are building more than just houses — they’re building character.

According to its website (skillsusa.org), SkillsUSA is a national non-profit partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It was formerly known as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America.

“SkillsUSA is a group leadership-based activity. They deal with the leadership responsibility to make them become leaders. Also, that ties right into our program offering,” said Rick Stringer, a SkillsUSA advisor at SciotoTech.

Each year students compete for the opportunity to represent their school in the regional, state, and national SkillsUSA competitions. The contest puts students to the test to show-off what they’ve learned in automotive refinishing, basic health care, carpentry, criminal justice, nurse assisting, welding and more. The school pays for these trips with fundraisers, such their Golf Scramble on Mother’s Day weekend.

This year, six SciotoTech students qualified at the regional competition to travel to the state contest. One student, Jeremy Cooper, made it all the way to the national competition in Kansas City this year where he earned the school a third place bronze medal in his division.

Beginning next month, the school will begin another season of SkillsUSA at the Fall Conference in Columbus. Lots of students signed up to participate, but there was only room for the best.

“Two weeks ago we had what’s called the Action Team, and that’s where students sign up to be part of the core that provides all of the activities throughout the year. It’s a daylong leadership activity teaching them about leadership and teamwork,” said Advisor Linda Spittle. “They had to meet certain qualifications, and I probably cut 30 to 35 people that were not allowed to participate, but wanted to.”

From the 71 students who were members of the Action Team, only 18 were chosen to participate in the Fall Conference.

“It’s almost a competition in itself to be the most heavily involved. Everybody can be involved, but to be the heavily we have to take the very best of the of the best,” Stringer said.

SkillsUSA students also participate in community service projects. Two years ago, a delegation of students traveled to West Liberty, Ky., to help clean-up after a tornado. This year, students will be painting houses with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at the VA hospital in Chillicothe, and making toy boxes for a Christmas toy drive. Spittle said employers need skilled workers, but it’s just as important that workers are responsible and mature.

“Leadership skills are important because that’s what all of the employers are asking for. They’re saying that they saw skills meeting tardiness, coming to work, reliability, integrity, all of the things SkillsUSA teaches are what employers are saying they need,” Spittle said.

For more information about SkillsUSA visit them online at www.skillsusa.org or Ohio SkillsUSA at www.ohioskillsusa.org, and the Scioto County Career Technical Center online at www.sciototech.org.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.