Carr wins District 4/5 SkillsUSA title


Allison Carr won first place in the district four and five automotive service competition held at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School. She will advance to compete in the state SkillsUSA Leadership Competition in April.

DOWNINGTOWN — Forty-eight Technical College High School (TCHS) students were awarded medals in the district four and five SkillsUSA competitions held at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School on January 19 and TCHS Brandwine Campus on February 14.

Students gathered to demonstrate their skills in one of 40 technical and leadership categories such as firefighting, customer service, esthetics, medical terminology and First Aid/CPR. The first place winners in each of the leadership and skill competitive events will advance to the State Leadership Conference in Hershey in April.

TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Automotive Service Technology student Allison Carr won first place in the district four and five automotive service competition. The competition tested Carr’s skills in her technical field with tasks ranging from headlights to brakes to Pennsylvania automotive standards. Judged by industry experts in the field, Carr had to answer questions, create a flyer for an auto body shop, identify different auto parts and use diagnostic tools to determine why a check engine light appeared.

“I was very nervous,” she said about the competition. “I get nervous under pressure and I was shocked when I won.” Carr is a senior and plans to attend Pennsylvania College of Technology to major in Business and Automotive Technology Management. Someday she would like to own an auto shop or go into management.

Although thrilled to have won first place and advance to the state contest, what Carr enjoyed the most was the atmosphere of the contest. “Even though I was competing with people from other schools we all sat together on the bus,” she said. “It was great to talk to them and meet with people I got to know from previous years.”


More than 400 students from 20 regional career and technical education schools competed at the district four and five competition held at TCHS Brandywine. “SkillsUSA provides educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education,” said TCHS Brandywine principal Seth Schram.

It is the camaraderie among the students from different schools that stands out. TCHS Brandywine Campus hosted the district four and five competition for 400 students in twenty different career and technical schools from as far away as Cumberland and Adams Counties. As students awaited their competition, they talked and supported each other, posed for pictures with students from other schools and discussed their plans for the future.

The student competitors have plans – big plans – for their future. Hannah Guth, a junior in the Allied Health program at Adams County Tech Prep, is currently looking at different colleges.

“I’m not 100 percent sure what I want to major in,” she said. “But I know I want to work in the medical field and work in some way with kids.”

Ryan Bartman from the Berks Career Technology Center East Campus, is planning to go straight into the workforce. As asenior in the auto collision program, he gained a lot of experience at his school and feels prepared to begin his career.  Other students are planning to major in math education, occupational therapy, own their own businesses (such as a cupcakery!) and enter the armed services.

Like attending a career and technical education program, participation in SkillsUSA helps prepare students for their future careers. “Participation in SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens,” said Jim Brunken, a TCHS Pennock’s Bridge instructor and SkillsUSA advisor. “SkillsUSA improves the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of citizenship, leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training.”

One of the ways SkillsUSA empowers students is allowing them to practice the skills they will need in the future and try new things. Reading-Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center sophomore Megan Skipper competed in the firefighting skill competition. While she plans to become a teacher, she is currently a junior firefighter. In her skills competition, Skipper competed against five others, including her brother. She had to demonstrate how to properly put on protective gear and the breathing apparatus and how to move ladders, hose and ropes. “I was worried about messing up and forgetting everything,” she said. “The ladder challenge was stressful, because I’m a girl and I don’t have as much upper body strength, but I got through.” Not only did she get through, she won second place in the category, beating her brother.

While Skipper’s contest helped her build confidence and knowledge, Logan Nelson from Adams County Tech Prep connected his category to his future career. “I competed in extemporaneous public speaking. The topic this year was dignity and work and how you incorporate that into your life,” he said. “I talked about how this is important for a police officer.” Nelson plans to either attend college and major in criminal justice or attend the Baltimore County Police Cadet program. Courtney Leschner, another college bound student, spent time in her biology class preparing for the medical terminology category. “It will help me when I attend Penn State next year for a BSN degree.”

Ultimately, SkillsUSA is about teaching practical and transferrable skills to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. For TCHS students and other district four and five participants, SkillsUSA is also about developing friendships, networks of support and preparing for their future.


Technical College High School District 4/5 Winners:


TCHS Brandywine

First Place (advancing to state competition)

Advertising Design – Megan Kowalski

Collision Repair – Carlos Cruz Figueroa

Commercial Baking – Emily Heitzman

Electrical Construction Wiring – Sean Curran

Esthetics – Summer Christman

First Aid/ CPR –  Cirrito

Internetworking – Scott Conrad

Job Skills Demo A – Paige Krahling

Motorcycle Technology – James Marx

Power Equipment Technology – Kyle Davenport

Prepared Speech – Jessica Garrison


Second Place

Auto Service Specialization – Donald McCue

Cabinetmaking – Matthew Burstyn

Customer Service – Stephen Salach

Early Childhood Education – Rachel Lawrence

Electronics Technology – Nathan Gemmell

Prepared Speech – Gianna Maio


Third Place

Auto Service Specialization – Donald McCue

Cabinetmaking – Matthew Burstyn

Customer Service – Stephen Salach

Early Childhood Education – Rachel Lawrence

Electronics Technology – Nathan Gemmell

Prepared Speech – Gianna Maio

Action Skills – Kaitlyn McElroy

Customer Service – Mabel Keppeh

Extemporaneous Speaking – Shane Malcolm

Job Skills Demo A – Veronica Alvarez

Job Skills Demo O – Kylie Monko

Related Technical Math – Joe Delphais


TCHS Pennock’s Bridge

First Place

Automotive Specialization – Allison Carr

Customer Service – Ronnie Williams

HVAC – Gilberto Correa

Pre-School Teaching Assistant – Phaedra Swisher


Second Place

Automotive Technology – Matt Gardner ($3000.00 Scholarship ATC)

Collision Repair – Joel Ruiz Ibarra

Cosmetology – Victoria Casteneda

Job Demonstration Open –  Erika Maule, Veterinary Science

Nurse Assisting – Jaycee Dagney

Power Equipment Technology – Ben Berdouley

Related Technical Math – Justin Hoffman


Third Place

Automotive Refinishing – 3rd, Miguel Cortez

Computer Web Design – 3rd, Chris Grillo and Trevor Phaneuf


TCHS Pickering

First Place

Automotive Refinishing – Emmanuel Lopez

Automotive Technology – Jake Hultz

Cosmetology – Nicolas Sacco

Electronics Technology – Angela Villalva

Information Technology Services – Tim Brunner


Medical Terminology – Tony Evans


Second Place

Advertising Design – Gilardo Perez

Criminal Justice – Hunter Vigil


Third Place

Job Interview – Courtney Payne

Medical Math – Ambre Fenton

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