There are numerous types of unique organizations at CHS, one of them being SkillsUSA. If you're like me, there's a possibility you have never heard of this group. SkillsUSA is a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) led by Mr. Ben Loeffelholz. He says this organization promotes building student leaders by developing personal, workplace, and technical skills grounded in academics. It is a very successful group that has won numerous competitions, making a name for itself each time.
In Loeffelholz's time in charge of this organization, he says he truly enjoys seeing all the members grow and create their own paths on their routes to success. In his words, "I love being the lead advisor for SkillsUSA! It is great to see students take charge to grow and become leaders in our chapter." SkillsUSA is a student-run organization, meaning whatever successes and failures the students experience are what they make of it. All of the responsibility falls on the students.
SkillsUSA is known for building future leaders and the skills necessary for their success. Students elect their officers, who run chapter meetings and help prepare for the year. They meet every first and third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm and prepare for their upcoming competitions. Academic commitments aside, the students must also make time to practice for their competitions. Luckily for them, all the STEM teachers help out with prepping for these competitions. They even get students in contact with industry professionals to learn straight from the source.
Their state and national conferences are held yearly in April and June. The State Leadership Conference occurs in April, where students compete in technical and leadership competitions. If students come in first at state, they can travel to the national conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Members also attend the 3-day Mid-America conference in October, where chapters from five states participate and compete in leadership activities. These activities include extemporaneous speaking, opening and closing ceremonies and chapter business procedure.
Loeffelholz says, "I love watching the breadth of competitions available such as motorcycle technology, welding sculpture, cosmetology, any of our healthcare competitions, precision machine technology, diesel technology, urban rescue, drone technology, and many more!" "Many more" includes anything from cabinet making and welding to automotive technology and masonry.
With all these competitions and conferences in mind, Loeffelholz says SkillsUSA's goal for this year is to build and work towards a chapter of excellence. He says, "This is a program within SkillsUSA where chapters choose a part of our framework to focus on and build within our chapter. Then, 12 chapters are selected and recognized nationally for their work."
To prepare for all these competitions, third-year SkillsUSA member Fisher Cyza is hoping to improve on his previous success. Cyza has been part of the SkillsUSA chapter since his freshman year and has already reached considerable heights in just two years of competition. Cyza has won 3 state championships and one Mid-America competition. He says, "Two of my state championships were solo competitions in Related Technical Math, and the other was a partner competition in Mechatronics. I competed with Blake Ramaekers for Mechatronics." He also competed at the Mid-America conference; he was a member of the winning Chapter Display team as a member of the Silver Chapter.
Cyza also shared the types of competitions he specifically competes in: Related Technical Math, Mechatronics, and the Chapter Display. He says, "Related Technical Math is a test covering basic calculations of the volume, area, radius, diameter, weight, and other quantitative values of a theoretical workpiece." Mechatronics, on the other hand, is a competition about fluid power, with a specific focus on electro-pneumatic (air and electricity) systems. This competition involves the designing, building, and troubleshooting of various systems. Finally, the Chapter Display is a competition where a team of seven competitors presents the colors and symbols of SkillsUSA in a procedure that is completed at the beginning of the general sessions of SkillsUSA.
To prepare for these competitions, Cyza says he is continuing to further develop his education in mathematics and mechatronics through experience and STEM classes. His favorite parts of competing are the sense of accomplishment when he finishes and can see all the cumulative results of his efforts in training himself. He says, "Knowing that I have become trained and practiced with hands-on skills that will be applicable in my future gives me a feeling of hope and certainty for my career." However, his favorite part of SkillsUSA is the professionalism and unity he feels when attending events and competitions. It's an uplifting experience to be a part of such an incredible organization, in his words.
This is only a portion of what SkillsUSA does; there aren't enough words to describe how talented each member of this incredible team is. Together they all aim for success and work hard to reach their goals each time. This is an organization that has made a name for itself at each of its conferences, and they deserve to be recognized more often. Let's make sure to cheer them on at their next upcoming events in the future!
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