Five will be moving forward to the National Conference in Atlanta

PASO ROBLES — Students with Paso Robles High School (PRHS) SkillsUSA earned great success at the 2022 State Conference. 

Fifty-four students, who placed in the regional conference back in February, went to compete at the State Conference in Ontario on April 21-24. This was the first face-to-face conference since 2019. The PRHS students competed in 34 different contests. Five of those students will be moving on to the National Conference in Atlanta in June. This will be the first live National Conference after three years of virtual contests. 

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to showcase occupational skills leading and Career Technical Education (CTE). As a national organization, programs include local, state, and national competitions in which students demonstrate occupational and leadership skills. There are over 80 different occupational areas students may participate in. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

The PRHS SkillsUSA chapter 211 started in 2003 with three welding students attending a regional competition in Salinas. The next year two of the chapter’s students won State Championships — the start of Paso’s success with SkillsUSA becoming the largest chapter in California.

Overall, the goal of SkillsUSA is to prepare students with a work ethic and options for a career — whether they choose the college path or straight into their industry.

Randy Canaday, SkillsUSA Chapter 211 Coordinator, explains, “We want the kids to have a choice between going to college so that you can have the career you’re looking for or going to your career and doing your training via on the job training or apprenticeship. So we want them to have that opportunity.”

Canaday, who was previously a teacher at PRHS, has been a SkillsUSA coordinator for 18 years. 

The Paso Robles SkillsUSA chapter is supported greatly by local businesses, making it possible for students to attend competitions and conferences across the nation. This year will be the inaugural year of the SkillsUSA Scholarship Fund sponsored by a local entrepreneur. The scholarships will assist four CTE Pathway completers with funds to attend college or trade schools. 

Canaday expresses their appreciation for their support, “We are very proud of our community for the financial support.”

There are approximately 130 different skills competitions students can participate in. Categories include medical, leadership, welding, construction, early childhood education, and more.

Nineteen PRHS students were medalists. Two of the contests were teams of three students. In 2021, Bricen Chitty was a bronze medalist in telecommunications cabling at the virtual 2021 National Conference. He will be returning as the California gold medalist to Nationals.

The 19 PRHS medalists are:

  • Junior Victoriano — Customer Service — Gold
  • Ceci Martinez — Early Childhood Education — Gold
  • Malia Gaviola — Job Interview — Gold
  • Jess Conover — Marine Service — Gold
  • Bricen Chitty — Telecommunications Cabling — Gold
  • Jenny Ayala — CPS Human Services — Silver
  • Jocelyn Alvarado — CPS Human Services — Silver
  • Lupita Echevarria — CPS Human Services — Silver
  • Mick Barnett — Electrical Work — Silver
  • Landon Ross — Intro Welding — Silver
  • Bella Butler — Nurse Assisting — Silver
  • Harmony Houdyshell — Prepared Speech — Silver
  • Jose Rendon — Navia Telecom. Cabling — Silver
  • Andrew Olsen — Welding Fab — Silver
  • Coleton Sullivan — Welding Fab — Silver
  • Grace Wittstrom — Welding Fab — Silver
  • Tegan Henretty — Job Interview — Bronze
  • Gwenyth Lemon — Related Tech. Math — Bronze
  • Sophia Bilinski — Telecommunications Cabling — Bronze

Students and business and industry donors will be honored at the Annual SkillsUSA Appreciation Dinner. The dinner will be at the Ravine Water Park on May 12.