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Northeast Students Find Cabinet Making Competition to be ‘Top Shelf’

Northeast Students Find Cabinet Making Competition to be ‘Top Shelf’

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Cabinet making is a skill that some workers take a lifetime to perfect.

Kellan Wusk of Geneva and Ashton Sims of Humphrey, two Northeast Community College sophomore building construction majors, take the craft seriously. 

While neither one claims to be an expert, they both enjoy the challenge and feel better about their skills with each project they complete. That’s why they were both willing to compete in cabinetmaking during a recent SkillsUSA competition in Grand Island.

And both performed well. Sims earned a silver medal and Wusk earned a bronze medal in the collegiate portion of the competition, which took place in late April.

Wusk wasn’t new to SkillsUSA, competing in masonry as a freshman and finishing fourth last year as a freshman. The top five finished within about 20 points of each other.
This year was the first time Sims competed in SkillsUSA.

“I am a little nervous, I admit it,” Sims said, before the 8 a.m. start. They had until 4 p.m. to finish.

During the competition, the students had to build a cabinet that was 15 inches wide and 30 ½ inches tall. The night before the competition, the students were given a plan and then graded on the sizes of boards they would use and some of the particulars.

Then the next day, they received more instructions and built the cabinets. The students used a combination of their own tools that they brought, and some supplied for the competition.

Both students credited SkillsUSA with helping them to improve their studies, which gives them a chance to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a competition. They also credited Roger Walker, Northeast building construction instructor, for preparing them.

“It’s fun to see all the people here,” Sims said. “It’s nice to see even the high schools are here getting a feel for the trades. This is what prepares us for our future life.”

Wusk said SkillsUSA is a fun competition, and he enjoys meeting people. While neither student will be part of the Northeast group that will be competing at nationals in Atlanta next week – only gold medals advance to nationals -- they enjoyed competing at state.

“It’s nice to meet some people who maybe come from a little bit different background and find out about them,” Wusk said. “I don’t know if you can get (very close) as it is a competition.”

Nearly 16,000 attendees will be going to SkillsUSA’s National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC) in Atlanta, including dozens who qualified from Northeast. They will be leaving early Monday, June 24, from Norfolk.

Chelle Travis, the national SkillsUSA director, said the organization has set a record with more than 413,000 students and teachers in middle schools, high schools and college/postsecondary institutions across America competing this year.

“SkillsUSA is the No. 1 workforce development organization for students,” Travis said. “We empower students to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members.”

SkillsUSA cabinetmaking cutline
Kellan Wusk (left), takes a sip of water while Ashton Sims (right) looks over his tools prior to the start of cabinet making, one of the SkillsUSA competitions that Northeast competed in during spring in Grand Island. (Northeast Community College)