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CHS Wins Big At SkillsUSA State Competition

Seven students at Centralia High School won SkillsUSA state championships over the weekend of April 20-21. They are now qualified for the SkillsUSA National Competition in Louisville, KY in July. SkillsUSA is “a partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce,” according to SkillsUSA.com.

Jake Keehr, Trajan Ziel, Kevin Garduno, and Adam Elkins won the TeamWorks championship. TeamWorks is a team made up of a plumber, mason, carpenter, and electrician. They’ll compete at nationals in a competition that requires them to build a small building with wood and steel walls. It will have plumbing, wiring, and a brick façade. “They have to do all of this in just four days,” said Construction class teacher Mitchell Smith.

Melissa Berg is the state champion in Occupational Health and Safety. She has documented the safety aspects of the construction and wood arts classes at CHS. “She’ll create a notebook showing how we comply with OSHA laws and how we teach safety in our shop and on the jobsite,” said Smith. “She’ll present her work to a panel of judges at nationals.”

Inchantra Armitage won the state championship for masonry. At nationals she will be faced with the task of building a block foundation and then constructing a brick wall on top of that. She will be expected to lay 30 blocks and 600 bricks in 8 hours. “It’s a grueling competition, many participants don’t complete the task. I think Inchantra will do great,” said Smith.

Tim Sheets won the state competition in welding sculpture. His national contest will consist of presenting a portfolio of his work and an interview portion. “Tim did a great job and I’m sure that he and his work will represent the Washington state very well,” said Metals instructor Brian Taylor.

Two of the students, Keehr and Ziel, are the first CHS students ever to qualify for the SkillsUSA national competition twice. “We learned a lot from our experience,” said Keehr. “We have a better understanding of what judges are looking for now and we’re better prepared to meet the challenges.”

During their trip to Louisville, the team will take some time to visit sites of interest such as the Louisville Slugger Bat Museum & Factory. “We’ll also visit Nashville,” said Smith. “This trip is a good opportunity to expose our students to some experiences and cultural aspects that are outside of the norm for us in Centralia.”

The team will be working to raise funds to support the trip. “We’ll need to raise about $10,000,” said Smith. Persons or businesses interested in helping to send the team to Louisville can contact CHS at 360-330-7605.

Listen to the recording of the team's interview with Peter Abbarno on KELA: