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Student Life

SkillsUSA on road to redemption

The SkillsUSA team is getting ready to start the 2020-21 school year. The pandemic has made “going out” a much more challenging proposition these days, but just because vehicles might be sitting more than they used to does not mean people can afford to put off repairs when they are needed. That is the reason Shawano High School seniors are here to help with those problems. These seniors have been working very hard this summer and the couple weeks they have been in the classroom learning new techniques for SkillsUSA. 

“SkillsUSA gives students the opportunity to see other avenues available to them as far as career choices,” senior Ben Cook said. “[It] builds up pride and makes you want to show off what you’ve got.” 

There are many different employees that come to the competition to look for young students to come work for their business. 

Cook explained, “Everyone that shows up to the competition is getting looked over by employees as you compete in one of many different branches in the competition.”

“They love the competitions that we go to, and it has given them the chance to show off what they know,” senior Griffin Guetschow agreed. 

No one has to have skill to be able to compete, many people just go for the fun of it and to meet new people. There are also many skilled students that go to compete so they can bring a trophy home to their school.

Guetschow is gaining some incredible hands-on experience and skills, which is a huge advantage over his peers as he plots his career course for when he goes to college. The pandemic has forced him to take some of those skills to even higher levels. Having to use some of the skills that he has never used before has made him a better worker and willing to push himself further.

“We’ve had to be extra clean with customer vehicles,” Guetschow said. “There are more steps that take us longer, but to keep everyone safe and clean, it’s nothing to complain about at the end of the day.”

As for senior Spencer Engelhardt, he continues to navigate his way through the pandemic with a greater understanding of his importance of learning trades. “Being called an ‘essential worker’ gives me pride in the job that I do every day,” explained Engelhardt. “I know people depend on groups of trades people like us to keep their everyday lifestyle going.”

Cook has definitely learned a lot about cars, welding and building while he has been at Shawano High School. Learning those trades will definitely help bring home the championship trophy from the competition. Having to push himself further and further each time he has done a project has made him better at what he does.

“SkillsUSA allows any high school student, men and women to join the competition,” Cook said. “The only requirement to join is you have to be in a shop class, and you have to have passing grades to be able to go to competition.” 

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and the industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. From healthcare to HVAC and construction, SkillsUSA gives students everything they need to thrive in skilled careers that are in demand.  

“I’ve been working for a diesel mechanic this past summer, and I cannot wait till SkillsUSA competition comes around because I’ve been working this whole summer just learning the mechanics side of a diesel truck little and big engines. I feel so ready for the competition. I am hoping that I can take first place at the competition and take a trophy back to our school,” Engelhardt said. 

SkillsUSA is for all high school students, both men and women. You do not have to be good at a shop class to be able to qualify for competition. 

“Many students join SkillsUSA because they want to have the real life experience of what it is going to be like in the workplace for when they get out of high school,” said Cook.