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RCCC hosts annual high school SkillsUSA competition

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s North Campus is typically a beehive of activity. However, it was busier than ever earlier this year, as the college hosted the SkillsUSA Southwest regional competition.
More than 100 high school students participated in more than two dozen categories — everything from identifying automotive tools to investigating at a crime scene and nailing a job interview.
SkillsUSA promotes leadership and skills assessments for students in trade and industrial classes, according to Glenn Barefoot, state director. There are some 100 categories offered in SkillsUSA competitions.
“It’s a great learning experience for the kids,” said Craig Pendergraft of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. “They compete and show the best of what they can do.”
That was certainly the case in the carpentry department, where Brandon Blessing, Omar Mendoza and Christian Izaguirre of Monroe High School worked together at one table, the smell of fresh-cut wood permeating the air.
Teacher Greg Evans was quick to instruct Christian making a straight cut with his saw. Evans brought 13 students to the competition, the majority of whom were participating in carpentry activities.
Some 20 students from automotive classes at Providence High School were on hand, all attired in blue short-sleeved oxford shirts embroidered with the SkillsUSA logo and the words “Providence High Automotive.”
The students completed tests in auto 1, automotive service technology, automotive tool identification, aviation maintenance technology, motorcycle service technology and power equipment technology. Scores of Rowan-Cabarrus students served as proctors and assisted with the testing.
Thelancy Price, an engineering and drafting teacher at Providence High School, accompanied the team.
“I wanted to come and see what it’s all about,” she said of the competition.
Upstairs, the scene was a bit quieter — dead quiet, to be exact.
Kristina Miller, student ambassador for Rowan-Cabarrus, lay on the floor in the crime scene investigation classroom, the victim of an apparent “murder.” Above her, three students from A.L. Brown High School were discussing the clues around the case.
Eddie Kluttz of the China Grove Police Department peppered the trio with questions. Also lobbing inquiries was Kim Boling, the college’s program chair for criminal justice and emergency management.
“You may have to present this scenario to 12 jurors,” Kluttz said of the evidence being collected. “You will never get a second opportunity to visit the crime scene as it is now. You have your notes, your sketches and your photographs.”
Outside the door, Catherine Escuerdo was waiting with two other students of the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology for their chance at the forensics activity.
Escuerdo said that the SkillsUSA team meets monthly at her school, a magnet school in Charlotte.
“You can choose any competition you want,” said Escuerdo, a senior, who takes a class in forensics. “I like the competition. It takes you out of your comfort zone.”
Other tests being offered at the Rowan-Cabarrus site included architectural drafting, computer maintenance technology, cosmetology, drafting, electronics technology, firefighting, medical terminology, web design, welding and more.
For more information about SkillsUSA, visit www.skillsusanc.org.
For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-7222.

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