High school students take first steps towards national competition

High school students at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District are getting ready to take their first steps towards a national career and technology competition this month.

Students are gearing up to participate in the upcoming 2013 SkillsUSA district competition on Feb. 22. It will be the first level of competition for students as they work to advance to the state and national levels. Texas State Technical College (TSTC) will host the competition.

The event brings together teams from across the Rio Grande Valley, and offers competitive activities in a variety of occupational skill and leadership areas. There will be up to 96 areas for students to compete in. Events include architecture, design, audio/visual production and computer programming.

“My event is building trade and masonry,” said Noe Mendoza, senior at Harlingen High School. “I have to build a table center piece to take to the competition and display for the judges.  It’s my first year competing. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m confident about my piece.”

The journey to the state competition may just be getting started, but many of the students are looking forward to their future after graduation. They hope that with their participation, it will give them real-world experience to help them understand what a typical day would be like if they chose to stay in a profession related to their event.

“I definitely see myself as a reporter in the future,” said Michelle Adams, HHS senior who competed in Broadcast News Production on Feb. 15. “These are tasks that you would be assigned in the industry. It’s given me an idea of what to expect.”

Students that compete in SkillsUSA are typically enrolled in a class that focuses on their area of interest, and have been preparing throughout the year to perfect their skills. For some, that includes staying hours after school to run through a variety of tasks they might be asked to complete during the competition.

For cosmetology students, that means hitting the books to learn anything they can about anatomy, electricity, and hair care for their quiz show type event

“For the quiz bowl, we’ve been studying 980 questions,” said Sienna Handy, senior at HHS. “There are five us on a team, and we are starting to get together to practice with the buzzer. Our teacher is going to help us and ask us questions.”

While other students are preparing for their competition day on Feb. 22, two teams have already had the chance to show off their talents. The HHS and Harlingen High School South Audio/Visual Production classes competed on Feb. 15. Teams involved in the Audio/Visual production portion of the contest spent the day producing news, radio programs and visual media.

With their events requiring a longer review time, students will have to wait until the rest of their classmates compete to find out the results.  The wait may prove to be a little difficult for some.

“The hardest part will be trying to keep myself from being nervous,” said Robert Valdez, senior at HHSS who competed in Broadcast News Production. “I’m antsy for the results. You just want to know how your team did.”

Teams that qualify for the state competition will compete at the SkillsUSA Texas High School Conference in Corpus Christi on April 1.

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