Tuning up a car, making a cabinet, whipping up a gourmet dinner, welding a usable article, producing a spectacular photograph, battling a fire or, perhaps toughest of all, public speaking offer special challenges for everyone. They are also exactly the challenges high school students in Northern Arizona will be taking on this Friday.
Camp Verde High School is primary host for the SkillsUSA Arizona Region 4 conference on Jan. 25. Students involved in Career and Technology Education will pit their talents against others in a range of vocational competitions.
"It's a great thing for us," said CVHS Principal Bob Weir, who also heads up the campus' CTE program. "Our kids do a lot of work to make this happen."
Most of this year's activities will be on the CVHS campus. That includes automotive, cabinet-making, culinary arts and leadership. The latter, which involves the aforementioned public speaking, will be in the library and may not be open to the public. But the community is welcome to come and watch the students at work in the other contests.
The event is hosted in conjunction with Mingus Union in Cottonwood, and that school will host the welding competition. The Fire Science contest will also be in Cottonwood at the Fire Academy, and Sedona-Red Rock High School hosts the photography competition. These host schools are part of the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education.
The opening session will be at 8 a.m. at the Multi-Use Complex Theatre. By 9 a.m., students will be at their competition sites and ready for the dustup.
CVHS woods instructor Jeff Neugebauer said the contests will be extremely challenging. With supplies on the table and some boards, students competing in cabinet-making will only have until 3 p.m. to complete their projects.
"We made it a little easier on them this year and precut four pieces," Neugebauer said.
Meanwhile, future automobile mechanics will work on everything from brakes to electrical, and the culinary students will really be dishing it out.
"It's intense," Neugebauer said of the cooking experience. "They deliver up three courses in six hours. They've got to get it in and get it out. It's like being a line chef in a big restaurant."
In Cottonwood, welders will have tasks and fabrications in their own fiery competition.
In the past, the Region 4 conference was frequently held in Flagstaff, where Weir said the competition started to flounder. Last year, Mingus and CVHS cooperatively hosted the event, with most competitions in Cottonwood.
"Mr. Neugebauer and I wanted to give more students the change to compete and offer a lot more contests," Weir said.
Judges will be area professionals and instructors. The awards ceremony is set for 4 p.m. back at the MUC.
Caitlin Horner, the events and membership coordinator for SkillsUSA Arizona, said the program will "enhance real-world experience" for the students as they enter wide range of professions, for firefighting to cosmetology and nursing. They also learn leadership skills and what they need for professional development and how to talk to potential employers.
Pleased employers have come back and become business and industry partners with SkillsUSA. Former students have come back and help out with current problems because the training they received helped them get jobs, Horner said.
SkillsUSA Arizona has 8,500 members.
For more information about the SkillsUSA conference and visiting the school campus call (928) 567-8035.
What is SkillsUSA? Formerly known as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.