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East County students win big in state skills contest

Four East County high school students earned first place honors at a recent skills competition organized by SkillsUSA in Clackamas County.

Nearly 500 students from throughout Oregon competed against each other, showing off diverse skills from early childhood teaching to cake decorating to welding. SUBMITTED PHOTO - The proud SkillsUSA team from Reynolds High School (left to right) Tori Sweetland, Janella Swick, advisor Cathy Behm, Carlee Woodward and Diyora Sadaat.

Reynolds High School student Nkaouara Thao earned first place in cake decorating.

Kevin Vang from Centennial High School earned a first-place award for his skills in early childhood teaching. His classmate Emma Chinchen took third place.

Centennial’s Antonio Martinez earned first place for his job interview skills. Reynolds High student Tori Sweetland, got third for job interview skills and also earned a second place award in the prepared speech category.

Reynolds High School student Diyora Saadat got first place in the job skills demonstration category. Cathy Behm, Reynolds’ SkillsUSA adviser and early childhood education teacher, noted the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps member “demonstrated medical skills currently used in the military.”

The competitions are a great opportunity for the students, Behm said, noting they gain self-esteem and experience through being assessed. The competitors engage in team building and exercises on how to follow guidelines and directions.

“They have to be dressed in a professional way, use proper etiquette,” Behm said. “It is amazing preparation for real life. Every student has to do a job interview. When real life comes along, it is not their first experience.”

SkillsUSA, formerly Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, helps students gain career-related skills. The SkillsUSA Oregon state leadership and skills conference was held on April 17 and 18 at Camp Withycombe on Southeast Minuteman Way in Clackamas County.

The state contest winners are eligible to compete against the 6,000 participants in the national SkillsUSA Championship held June 22-26 in Louisville, Ky.

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