PIQUA — Upper Valley Career Center students and staff have a great deal to celebrate following the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference Awards Ceremony, Friday, July 24, at Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville. Ohio’s two-time Sheet Metal Champion Dale Garber, a 2016 honor graduate and HVAC/R apprentice from Upper Valley Career Center and Greenville High School was awarded the gold medal and top honors in the national competition. Alisha Solomon, Piqua, also made a repeat appearance to the national Graphic Communication competition. The 2016 graduate from the Design and Digital Print Technologies program earned a fifth-place finish.
Leadership development is a major goal the SkillsUSA organization. Two Upper Valley Career Center Pre-Engineering seniors were elected from the Ohio Delegation to serve as 2016-2017 national officers. William Woodyard, Ansonia, and Keaton Pfeiffer, Troy, have spent weeks preparing their campaign strategies implemented throughout the Leadership Conference.
Post-secondary student and 2010 Upper Valley graduate Wyatt Knick, now a student at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, was the gold medal recipient for his demonstration of skills in Automotive Refinishing Technology. No stranger to the winners’ circle, Knick was the SkillsUSA national gold medalist after his junior year at Upper Valley in 2010 and won silver in Michigan’s post-secondary contest in 2013.
Also recognized on stage at the KEC and earlier in the week with a dinner reception, Upper Valley Career Center SkillsUSA advisers Sara Plozay and Jeff Bertke along with Samantha Bensman and Dylan Heitkamp representing the local student officers were presented the Models of Excellence Award through the SkillsUSA Chapter of Excellence Program. The Upper Valley SkillsUSA affiliate chapter was one of an elite group of 24 in the nation to receive the honor and accompanying $2,000 grant.
Upper Valley Career Center Public Relations Coordinator Katheryn Voris sumned up the enormity of the school’s success at the 2016 National Conference: “This is huge — unprecedented locally. These results are staggering when you consider there were 6,000 plus student contestants. Our national officers were elected by over 550 voting delegates from schools all across the country. The organization tells us that over 12,000 students, teachers, and supporters and nearly 2,000 business and industry professionals and 300 VIPs attended the SkillsUSA Conference.
“We are thrilled they saw such amazing accomplishment from the students of Upper Valley Career Center. We are so proud of these young people and the instructors who are so dedicated to their students.”