student welds his sculpture for SkillsUSA competitionOver 20 Career and Technical Institute (CTI) students will be competing at the New York State SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Championships April 24-26 at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse.

Although what students learn varies greatly across their respective trades, with the mission to “empower students to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members,” SkillsUSA unites them with a common purpose.

“It’s a team. I’m working alongside auto kids, culinary kids, and so many others and we’re all reaching for the same goal within Dutchess BOCES,” shared welding and fabrication student Logan Dobkowski.

This will be Dobkowski’s second year competing with SkillsUSA. Participating in the welding sculpture competition, Dobkowski has been working on his piece leading up to the competition, creating a skull and skeleton using metal inert gas (MIG) and stick welding. He will present the piece alongside a professional portfolio documenting his work.

For Seth Plass, honing his welding skills is a way to honor his late neighbor, a welder, who inspired him to enter the trade. He will be competing in the individual welding competition, where he will work from provided blueprints to demonstrate his knowledge of the trade.

“I’m looking forward to scoring higher than I did at the regional competition,” he said.

Plass shared that SkillsUSA has helped him grow in his trade and personally.

“I’ve learned a lot of leadership skills. Mrs. Myers encouraged me and told me I’d be a great leader, and then I went to the SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference,” he said. Sharon Myers is CTI’s work-based learning coordinator and a SkillsUSA adviser. The conference prepared Plass to become one of the student officers for the senior class.

In addition to the skill component of the competition, students complete a professional development test prior to the competition, as well as a trade specific test for the knowledge component of their scores.

student cooks to prepare for Skills USA competitionLogan Disher looks forward to the skills section of the culinary arts competition after the exam.

“I’m preparing by practicing my knife cuts and the foods we’re required to make,” he said.

Disher shared that SkillsUSA has taught him to expect the unexpected. Last year, the judges had a surprise in store, not providing the expected ingredients to the students.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, but it’s something you have to be prepared for in the real world. Sometimes you don’t get the produce you wanted, and you have to work with what you’ve got,” Disher shared.

Previously competing in cake decorating and restaurant service, Ianah Stackhouse is looking forward to challenging herself with something new: the job interview competition.

“I’m looking forward to showing my true self. I feel that’s the only way for me to succeed because that’s what shines most,” Stackhouse shared. “What I’ve learned from Skills is that anything is possible. If you put in the effort, this will change you for the better.”

Students shared that in addition to their excitement for the competition, they look forward to meeting other students from the region that share their passions.

Chef Amanda Scoca, one of the SkillsUSA advisers for Dutchess BOCES, shared, “It’s a lot more than a competition. SkillsUSA sets students up for a bright future. It teaches them teamwork and workplace skills, and gets them involved in their community.”

Although this is Scoca’s first year as an adviser, this isn’t her first time at the state competition. A previous first-place winner from her time as a student at Dutchess BOCES, she is a great guide for students as they challenge themselves and reach for their goals.

“I hope the students gain confidence through this experience,” Scoca said.