Chesco students compete in SkillsUSA competition


Dominic Greco and Rob Mastnjak of TCHS Brandywine are hard at work designing the Engine Tech Program’s piece of the Pennsylvania-shaped puzzle.

DOWNINGTOWN – Students from all three Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) Campuses recently participated in the regional SkillsUSA competition, but their work is not finished; they are gearing up for other challenges, including the statewide competition in April.

SkillsUSA’s mission is to encourage students to become leaders and self-sufficient citizens of the United States. The competition aims to increase the quality of the workforce through their programs that enhance citizenship, leadership, employability, as well as technical and professional skills training.

To that end, SkillsUSA student officers and leaders at TCHS Brandywine Campus are currently making a difference in the community. Kaylee Tada along with her partners Sabrina Paulino and Olivia Barrone from TCHS Brandywine did not place at the regional competition, but the team decided to continue competing in SkillsUSA by applying their skills to a different challenge.

Tada, Paulino, and Barrone signed up to compete in a separate SkillsUSA statewide competition that requires them to complete three professional leadership projects involving community service, patriotism and promotion.

Thus far,Tada and her team have completed the community service and patriotism portions of the project by serving a meal at the Ronald McDonald House and donating hairstyling and nail services to the Coatesville Veterans Association on Veterans Day.

The final piece is a promotional project that advocates for career and technical education (CTE) programs and their importance in students’ professional lives. Tada and her team decided to create a schoolwide mural made out of puzzle pieces, each one created by the CTE programs at TCHS Brandywine. The Pennsylvania-shaped mural represents their connection to the community and will hang inside the school for all current, future and visiting students to see.

Tada believes this project is an important one for their school. “It forces our school to work together. It definitely promotes school spirit and school atmosphere,” she said. “No matter if we place or not in this competition, we did something for our school and our community that was super impactful and meaningful and that’s what is the most important.”

At TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus, sophomore Juan Hernandez was recently elected vice president on the state student executive board for SkillsUSA. Hernandez attends monthly meetings, plans fundraising events and advises the president in her decision-making process.

Hernandez is excited about his new position and hopes to make a difference in his own school as well as the community. “I wanted to be able to influence people,” he said when asked why he decided to run for the position. “My motto everyday is if I want something and commit to it, I can accomplish it. Some people feel like they can’t, so I felt, as an officer, I could help people achieve their goals too.”

Hernandez is also an officer on the TCHS Pennock’s Bridge SkillsUSA student executive board along with nine other students from all different programs, sending schools and grade levels. The officers attended a leadership conference in Gettysburg in the fall, learning essential leadership and communication skills for their positions. Students utilize these skills in their positions as they promote SkillsUSA competitions, plan and execute fundraising events and act as role models to their peers. “I have to show leadership qualities in the classroom and in my group of friends because I am someone people should look up to and set high standards for,” said Hernandez.

Bart Heagy, one of the two faculty advisors who guide the officers, is excited for his students’ success. “We have seen them grow professionally as well as in their confidence and maturity levels,” he said. “We can definitely see them advancing from where they were in September to what they are accomplishing now in March.”

Other students who placed in the regional SkillsUSA competition from all three TCHS campuses are busy preparing for the statewide competition on April 13 and 14 at the Lebanon County Exposition Center.


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