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More than 80 YUHSD CTE students earn National Statesman award as part of week-long trip to Washington

Students in Washington A delegation of students and instructors from across the United States met with their elected officials in Washington, D.C. this week to talk about how their Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs have prepared them to be college and career ready.

Yuma Union High School District had 81 students, 10 advisors, two national officers, and six state officers attend the four-day SkillsUSA Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) conference for a total of 99 participants from YUHSD.

WLTI provided students an opportunity to grow in their professionalism, communication and leadership skills, which they apply during their visits to Congress. Delegations talked to elected officials or their staff members about their education paths and CTE training programs, the value of career and technical education and the benefits of their SkillsUSA participation. They explained how today’s workplace requires employees with career-readiness and professional skills, and that SkillsUSA develops these skills in students of all ages and backgrounds.

“We continue to see amazing results from our CTE Leadership initiative,” YUHSD CTE Executive Director Lorie Honeycutt said. “On the way home yesterday, two young men from San Luis High School asked how they could become next year's state or national officers. We love to have so many participating as state and national leaders, but more importantly we want all our CTE students to be leaders of industry in our community. WLTI and our other CTE training events provide the skills the students will need to lead in the future.”

The students visited seven Arizona senators and representatives. During the visits, YUHSD CTE students highlighted the success of the YUHSD CTE dual credit Arizona Western College courses, the 217.5 percent increase in industry credentials earned by students last year, and the professional and technical skills learned in their CTE programs and Career & Technical Student Organizations. Additionally, they thanked congressional leaders for joining the CTE Caucus and supporting Perkins V funding.

Overall, the conference focused on advanced communications skills including development of a SkillsUSA Framework story to share during their visits with elected officials. This year’s conference included training for students and advisors on personal and workplace skills; a panel discussion about effective legislative visits with experts from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate; a tour of Washington, D.C., monuments and museums; and a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

All SkillsUSA students in Washington As part of the trip, students were required to earn their National Statesman award. For the award, students had to interview regarding Perkins V and CTE funding and then write two essays on the information plus create an information brochure, take a written test of 100 questions [80 percent required to pass], sit for a personal interview with industry representatives, and memorize elements for an oral presentation given to the national officer team. One-hundred percent of the students and new advisors from YUHSD took home the award. 

SkillsUSA is one of the nation’s largest individual membership organizations for career and technical students and its programs are integrated into the CTE curriculum. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 94 percent compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 86 percent. CTE also helps create a trained pipeline of future workers to support a strong American economy and global competitiveness.

About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit partnership of education and industry founded in 1965 to strengthen our nation’s skilled workforce. Driven by employer demand, SkillsUSA helps students develop necessary personal and workplace skills along with technical skills grounded in academics. This SkillsUSA Framework empowers every student to succeed at work and in life, while helping to close the “skills gap” in which millions of positions go unfilled. Through SkillsUSA’s championships program and curricula, employers have long ensured schools are teaching relevant technical skills, and with SkillsUSA’s new credentialing process, they can now assess how ready potential employees are for the job. SkillsUSA has more than 360,000 annual members nationwide in high schools, colleges and middle schools, covering over 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, and is recognized by the U.S. departments of Education and Labor as integral to career and technical education.

Eric Patten