NORFOLK, Neb. – Northeast Community College students captured a combined 12 medals in a competition that showcases the best career and technical education students in Nebraska. Northeast crowned nine state champions and swept the competition in one category at the 2021 SkillsUSA Nebraska Virtual State Leadership and Skills Conference.
In the competition, students in skilled and technical education science contests work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. The philosophy of the championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers' needs.
More than 1,500 students across the state competed in more than 100 events.
Northeast Community College took the top three positions in the collegiate Internetworking competition. John Crockett, Creighton, was named 2021 Nebraska State SkillsUSA Champion, while Jon Koehler, Norfolk, placed second, and Edgar Chavez, Madison, was third.
Other gold medal winners from Northeast include Luke Hobbs, Hoskins, Computer Programming; Garrett Henery, Norfolk, and Emmanuel Soto, Norfolk, Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue; Braxton Bargmann, Lyons, Technical Drafting; and Lance Vie, Fontanelle, Luke Vie, Fontanelle, Jordan Kempf, Glenvil, and Leonard Schaecher, Norfolk, Broadcast News Production (Team A).
Dr. Wade Herley, dean of business and technology, said Northeast had a great showing in the competition.
“We had 12 students compete this year, with 11 of them earning medals. The 12th student, Mason Munn, of Wayne, also competed well in internetworking and took the fourth-place position.”
Herley said this year was a heavy lift for the SkillsUSA Nebraska chapter. He said he is proud of what the state organization accomplished and what Northeast students achieved in a year that saw many cancellations.
“If you get right down to it, SkillsUSA is an organization full of people that just gets things done, and that is exactly what we did this year.”
In a typical year, hand-on contests are held at Grand Island’s Fonner Park. SkillsUSA Nebraska State Advisor Greg Stahr and the SkillsUSA Nebraska Board of Directors made the decision to attempt to get as many contests held virtually and online in a short amount of time. Herley said the area chapters throughout the state and numerous volunteer judges were successful in conducting a majority of the contests.
“It was an amazing accomplishment in a short amount of time,” he said. “Greg Stahr did an amazing job with directing a significant amount of chaos to make the SkillsUSA state competition happen for the students in this state. I think many of us are extremely happy with what was accomplished this year, but I know we are all looking forward to getting back to normal and back to our state conference in Grand Island.”
Northeast instructors Brian Anderson (broadcasting), Richard Chrisman and Brad Vogt (information technology), and Michael Holcomb, (drafting), served as advisors. Shawn Tillotson, associate dean of business and technology, and Melissa O’Conner, division executive assistant, are assisted
As state champions, the nine Northeast gold medal students have qualified for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference to be held virtually, June 21-24, with localized hands-on elements for select competitions.
The gold medal state winners will compete virtually in the national contests in their area of specialization, e competing against some of the best and most talented students in the country.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. The organization serves middle school, high school and college students in programs in preparing them for technical, skilled and service careers. It was originally founded as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America in 1965. In 2004, the name was c hanged to SkillsUSA. Since 1965, the organization has served more than 13.5 million members. SkillsUSA enhances the lives and careers of students, instructors and industry representatives as they strive to be champions at work.