August 23, 2011
At Skills USA's 47th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., June 19-24, Olivia Keech, 16, won gold in the high school sheet metal category — the second gold award for Delcastle Technical High School in Newark, Del.
For the competition, the high school junior completed a written test and constructed a fitting.
"They said because I'm a junior I shouldn't expect anything," Keech said. "You’re supposed to go get the experience [at the competition], go back as a senior, and win. But I won, so I can come back next year and try to do it all again."
As the only girl in her sheet metal class at school, Keech was aware she was a minority in the competition. Only two females competed in the nationwide sheet metal competition. Keech credits her teacher, John Fitzgerald, for helping her succeed.
"I figured out how special it was when people got excited [when I won]," she added. "I hope more girls come into the sheet metal trade."
Co-sponsored by the International Training Institute (ITI) — the education arm of the unionized sheet metal and air-conditioning industry — the competition involved 3,000 students participating in the building trade categories on the high school and college levels.
This year marked the first time ITI co-sponsored the welding competition to educate students about the secondary education and career training ITI can provide. The partnership between Skills USA and ITI allows for the exchange of information, so schools with Skills USA programs can reach out to the professional community for mentorship, expertise, and guidance, while ITI can recruit from a talent pool that already understands and practices leadership skills.
ITI has contacts at each student's school. The partnership also eventually will allow Skills USA to track its graduates through the sheet metal industry and check on their progress.
In the high school sheet metal category, Hunter Crook of Monroe, N.C., earned the silver and Alec Higgins of Jefferson, Iowa, took home the bronze. In the college/postsecondary group, John Halwix of Elgin, Ill., received the gold award; Allen Travelstead of Fitzgerald, Ga., earned the silver; and Derek Daufeldt of Bettendorf, Iowa, took the bronze.
In the high school team welding fabrication category, Jared Martinez, Brennan Clelland, and Joshua Ellrod of Farmington, N.M., earned the gold award; Skeeter Judd, Aaron Jamerman, and Joe Lake of Douglas, Wyo., took the silver; and Kyle Alexander, Mason Hart, and John Stratz of Cottonwood, Ariz., earned the bronze. In the college/postsecondary group, Austin Welch, Mike Montoya, and Joseph Fournier of Price, Utah, earned the gold award; Boaz Millar, Stephen Millar, and Ricky Lovell of Sallisaw, Okla., took the silver; and Ryan Dauel, Brandon Versnon, and Lucas Boshart of Lincoln, Neb., won the bronze.
In the high school welding category, Tim Saxton of Cambridge, Minn., earned the gold award; Kaleb Parsch of Attica, Mich., won the silver; and Evan Vogler of Petersburg, Ind., took the bronze. In the college/postsecondary group, Spartak Matvyeyenko of Sacramento, Calif., earned the gold award; Blake Parks of Torrington, Wyo., took the silver; and Micah Hoover of Williamsport, Pa., received the bronze.