Monday, April 30, 2007

SkillsUSA Weekend

weekend, I attended the Michigan SkillsUSA State Championship Conference. (Wow that's a mouthful!) As I had mentioned earlier, my students compete in SkillsUSA. In January, I held the local competition on a Saturday, then I made them square off again in February for a regional competition, that all led to the State Championship this past weekend in Lansing.

So Friday morning we boarded a bus and headed to Lansing with 48 students and 12 chaperons. For me it was exciting because I know the potential my students have, but it was also stressful because I was in charge of booking the hotel and the registration. Once we got settled in the hotel on Friday night it was time for opening ceremonies. In the past opening ceremonies were well dry, boring and had a tendency to drag on and on. This year however that was not the case at all. The opening ceremonies was finished in record time, it moved, it was fun (there was a dj), light show and everything. It was dare I say: kinda cool. Then we headed back upstairs and let the kids unwind a little. The next thing you know we were putting them to bed, because they all had an early Saturday morning.

Saturday is the big competition day, we rise in the 5am hour and head off to the Lansing Community College Campus. Kids competed in everything from auto to welding. My students did, well television production. This year I was my second year as a member of the technical committee. The technical committee organizes the competition, everything from the design of the problem to finding judges. I tend to get too involved and then stress myself out. Oh well. It's not about me, it's about making a great competition for the students, I know what you are thinking, super cheesy and yes it is, but it's true. And you should know by now I am cheesy.

So when we got to the site, the students set up their computers, took a video production test and then headed out for two hours to get video of the state competition. The kids were assigned a one minute promotional video on the SkillsUSA state competition. Then we took a short break for lunch. After lunch is when the pressure cooker starts. The students have 2 hours to edit. They are all piled into two classrooms and after about 15 minutes you can cut the stress and tension with a knife. The students have to work through all kinds of problems, including computer and equipment failure. The worst part is when I give them the 15 minute call. That's when you see the panic and fear in their eyes. The students got 2 points off for every minute they were late. It can cause major anxiety, how do I know this, well I was feeling it up there just checking in the tapes. I wanted everyone, not just my teams to get their tapes in, after all they had been working so hard.

My teams did well, not without some tribulation. One team turned in a tape only to be disqualified because we could not find anything on the physical tape. Another team was 14 minutes late, which meant they started off with a -28. I had one team that had little problems. But I am proud of them all, they finished with integrity and professionalism. More on how they did at the award ceremony.

I sat through the judging, I must thank the judges because they really treated this like a big deal, which it is, but they are professionals in the business that took their Saturday to come out and judge more than 20 videos and 3 plus hours of their day was swallowed up by this. But they gave each video very thoughtful consideration. So thanks again... you guys are great.

I came back to the hotel after dinner on Saturday night, my students had been calling me every 10 minutes asking me to come back and hurry, that they had something for me. Low and behold, when I got back they had a card of appreciation and cookies for me. It touched me so much that I cried. I know I am a sap but truly it was awesome. It's one of those moments in my life that I will tuck away and look back. It just made me feel so good especially after a really really long day. I have great students.

So back to the results, being there while the judging took place, I actually knew where my students finished. They finished in FIRST PLACE. Yes at that moment I could have jumped out of my chair I was so excited, it took away some of the excitement from the actual awards ceremony, but it was still great. However, I did have to try to keep it a secret, which for those of you who know me, know that I am not great at that skill. I got a chance to call the Megan's parents, who I was pretty sure weren't planning on coming, I left the message saying, I thought that if they didn't have plans they might want to consider driving the two hours to Lansing. I was pretty sure Erik's parents were coming.

At the awards ceremony, I felt the excitement all over again. To see how excited they were, it was truly amazing. Also their classmates were so proud of them. When they called second place we just stood up and cheered because that put them on top. (and remember the rest of them were surprised) I am so proud of them all of them. But now Megan & Erik head to Kansas City in June (with me) for the National Competition. They will be representing the state of Michigan. It is so cool.

Also on a side note, Bruce's students who were in the same competition placed 3rd. Which was really cool considering that they didn't study video this year. I am really happy for him too.

Today, I must admit I was completely exhausted it is 7:40 pm and I am about to call it a night. Getting up this morning for work was a struggle, but when they kids came in (more so in the afternoon) they were so excited. I just wished I could bottle that energy for next year when I talk about joining SkillsUSA. They talked about the fun they had, the new friends they made, I could have cried all over again, but I didn't come people I may be a sap but I know when to hold it together. Even during break they branched out and sat with their new friends from the other classes that they spent the weekend with at SkillsUSA. It was cool experience.

On a side note, my team was not the only team to do well, in fact we swept two competitions, computer maintenance (way to go Dave, two years in a row to nationals and now a sweep, pretty sweet.) and metal machining (good job Duane even though you will never read this.)
Also we have one team of crime scene investigators going and one student for criminal justice (all taught by the talented Richard.) It will be a great time in KC.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jennie! You've really done well for yourself and have helped alot of kids find their way along the video trail!

Anonymous said...

Wow, when I look at that equipment I get jealous. When I was at Central Michigan our stuff wasn't even close to that. Of course that was 17 years ago. Back then our fanciest piece of equipment was an Amiga computer. The is a great time for young people to go into video. The equipment is so much more accessable, costwise. I know it's still not cheap, but even a job doing video for a cable company will allow you to be able to afford an edit system and camera.

Anonymous said...

Look me up when you get to KC. My team is competing in Crime Scene Investigation. TN Criminal Justice Instructor (Chris)

Anonymous said...

Hey, look me up when you get to KC - I'll still be in MO then and I'm willing to make a road trip to KC if you think you'll have any time for a visit!