The winners of the annual SkillsUSA Championships were announced June 24 at the awards ceremony of the 40th SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo. More than 4,600 career and technical education students from across the nation participated in hands-on competition in 80 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Autry Technology Center had 17 students qualify by placing first at the state contest.

Twelve students and their instructors attended the contest, and several students brought home medals.

"The SkillsUSA national contest is an outstanding opportunity for our students to showcase what they have learned in their Autry programs, as well as network with other students and potential employers from all 50 states. We are especially proud of our many qualifiers and celebrate the performance of our talented students," said Jeremy Eaton, Autry's director of student activities.

Autry student Aaron Davis won first place in firefighting in the college/post-secondary competition. The firefighting contest evaluates the contestant's preparation for firefighting careers through hands-on skill demonstrations and both written and oral presentations.

Areas tested included safety; breathing apparatus; fire streams; ladders, ropes, knots and hoses; fire control; ventilation; emergency medical care and rescue; and protecting fire cause evidence.

Contestants are evaluated using standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. Davis, who recently completed the Autry firefighting program, currently is enrolled in paramedic/EMT classes. Davis said he loves the challenge of the career field.

Norman Hays, who graduated from Chisholm High School in May, has spent the last two years in Autry's diesel technology program. He has grown up farming and always had an interest in how things work. He won third place in the diesel equipment technology contest and, along with his bronze medal, received tools and scholarships valued at more than $8,000.

Hays plans to attend college and study forestry this fall.

"There were lots of employers there who were interested in hiring students from the contest. I brought back a thick stack of business cards," he said.

SkillsUSA is the national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education.

Autry Technology Center is at 1201 W. Willow. For information on any programs, call 242-2750.

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