Trio represents CEC at national SkillsUSA event
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Three gold medalists from the Georgia SkillsUSA competition recently represented Central Educational Center in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC).
Kim Crabtree finished sixth in the nation in Graphic Communications, while Robert Fields and Jakob Blondell competed as a team in the Web Design category at the Kansas City, Missouri event.
Begun in 1967, the SkillsUSA Championships has grown from 54 competitors in three contests to more than 5,500 competitors in 94 hands-on skill and leadership contests this year. SkillsUSA affiliated instructional programs represent 130 different occupational areas. The competition showroom floor encompasses more than 16 football field’s worth of space.
“SkillsUSA gives CEC team members a unique opportunity to interact with peers from Georgia at the state level competition and from across the country at the national competition,” said Dr. Steve Humphrey, director of the CEC SkillsUSA program. “SkillsUSA also provides important career connections through the industry sponsored technical skill competitions and career exploration events.”
Georgia placed second in the nation overall in medallion count, with Florida finishing in first place.
Technical committees consisting of representatives from each specific industry design the contest to test the skills needed for successful entry-level employment in the given field. Contests consist of two parts: a written exam of knowledge about the subject area and a demonstration of the application of that knowledge.
The CEC contestants had opportunities to increase technical skills, meet peers from across the country and attend professional learning events. Crabtree, a senior from East Coweta High School, toured Lifetouch Publishing production facilities and viewed the yearbook production process from beginning to end. Crabtree said the national conference was “an exciting experience that provided many hours of training and competition that really increased my knowledge and skills.”
Blondell, a senior from Newnan High School and Fields, a junior from NHS, attended a seminar led by Yahoo Staff Production Designer Cindy Li who stressed creating a balanced life as part of a successful web design career. Both said the entire conference was a great learning experience.
“It changed our perspective on web site design and increased our desire to use new tools and methods in designing,” Blondell said.
All three contestants were also part of the Coweta County School System’s Work-Based Learning program, participating this past school year in internships that gave them additional opportunities to increase their skill sets.
“SkillsUSA competitors develop a much broader view of their career field that encourages them to continue to improve their technical and professional skills,” Humphrey said.
The two categories entered by the trio of Coweta students included several criteria on which competitors were judged:
Graphic Communications Contest
Contestants participated in a seven part contest that included:
* Graphics: Overall Visual Appeal
* Digital Workflow: Preflight operations, corrections and review overall quality
* Electronic Prepress: Create a file with InDesign that matches sample
* Finishing: Operate automated paper cutter and folder to specifications
* Offset Press: install plate and print two-color file
* Oral Professional Assessment: Participate in an interview exercise
* Production Planning: Solve problems relating to paper, ink and production
* Technical Knowledge Test: Complete a general technical knowledge test.
Web Design Contest
Contestants demonstrate skills in Web Programming (HTML, XHTML and CSS), Web graphics, Web site design, Web accessibility and usability, Web site management, project management, presentation, Web multimedia and professionalism based on the following criteria:
* Graphics: Overall Visual Appeal
* Graphics: Mechanical Aspects
* Design and Layout: Look & Feel
* Design and Layout: Navigation
* Programming: Compatibility
* Programming Code Structure & Design
* Scaffolding of Process – Diagram/Flowchart
* Richness of Process – Interview
* Written Exams
* Professionalism – Presentation, Interview and Submission
CEC is a charter college and career academy that links local businesses, the Coweta County School System and West Georgia Technical College in a unique partnership. CEC connects East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate High School students with advanced career-tech opportunities, some of which culminate in SkillsUSA competitions.
“SkillsUSA is a rapidly growing national effort that shows how business and education are more closely cooperating to develop a high-skill, high-tech American workforce,” said Mark Whitlock, CEO of CEC. “We are appreciative that local business and education are very supportive of Coweta’s SkillsUSA team. This is indicative of Coweta’s leadership role in the effort to ensure a viable 21st century workforce.”
CEC was designed by local community leaders, recently completed its 12th year of operation, and is the “model” upon which Georgia’s Charter College and Career Academy Initiative is based. Twenty-five other communities in Georgia have replicated or are planning to replicate CEC. Other states also have communities which have begun replication efforts. Representatives from 16 other nations have visited CEC to study this Coweta County innovation.