Students Seek Support for National SkillsUSA Competition


SkillsUSA is an organization that assists students from middle school students through college with career and technical education, leadership experience, and more. Durango High School has a long history of successful SkillsUSA students in their local chapter, and after a COVID-related hiatus, club advisor Shaun Smith and a team of six DHS students are headed to the national SkillsUSA Championships in June, paying for and fundraising their way. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by StoneAge Tools and Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado

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Have you ever considered a career in crime scene investigation? What about welding, carpentry, architectural design, video production and editing? For Durango high school students, the local chapter of SkillsUSA allows them to explore these and other types of careers alongside building leadership, communication, and other valuable skills to enter the workforce. From June 20th, through June 24th, six DHS students will compete at the national level in Atlanta, Georgia after winning state accolades earlier this year. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by StoneAge tools and The Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

So the competitions are, there's about a 120 different areas in skilled trades, occupational and service-oriented categories ranging from construction trades to job skill demonstration, interviewing, processing, computer programming, photography. Just about anything you can think of in employability sector. And students work with professional industry personnel that come in and work with them and help them see what it's like to be really in the field.

[Wendy Graham Settle] Students can choose from any category that piques their interest. And while SkillsUSA may be associated with technical skills such as woodworking and machinery, some members of the local chapter are from the theater and music departments. An orchestra cellist gave an instructional speech at the state competition while another demonstrated lighting and sound design for theater.

One thing about skills you say, it's not just about construction trades. I know that's kind of the thought around that because I've been teaching here for years in construction trades.

SkillsUSA also offers leadership opportunities for students both inside and outside the classroom. Students run the local chapter and a couple of DHS students have also been elected to the state level. In addition to attending the national competition, the two state-level officers will have the opportunity to participate in leadership training and seminars while in Atlanta this summer. SkillsUSA is raising money to offset the cost of attending the competition this summer. And just as the competition has a variety of categories, the fundraising effort offers a variety of donation opportunities.

You know, we do it the old-fashioned way. We've made items and sold those. We did fundraising this year during the school year, that supported our chapter. When we qualified for the national competition, we found out in April how many we were taking, we knew that we needed to raise a good chunk of money. So we've been doing some projects such as making things in the shop that we can sell. We've been doing silent auctions at our spring banquet. We made some money there. We're also using social media. We're going through places like across the street. We've got Pappy's that he's been very helpful over there, helping us get the word out that we're raising funds. He did a fundraiser for us last Saturday and did a deal where kids buy tickets or people buy tickets. They put money in the cup and they buy pizza and a percentage of that money goes towards our chapter.

Students also might work on commission projects and the chapter is working on grant proposals as well. If you'd like to donate to the chapter directly, you can visit the SkillsUSA club information Page at, set up an account and make a donation there.

Going to be a lot of fun so lot of high energy from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. From the time we leave to catch a plane in Albuquerque to the time we come back on the Saturday. So they will be engaged in leadership activities, competitions, which are huge. The amount of support from the industries both local and national that come in and support this at a grand scale is unbelievable. So these kids are going to see some pretty cool stuff when they go to the opening ceremonies and they see 18 to 20,000 people in the arena there, it's impressive. And they feel like they're really part of something big.

To learn more about SkillsUSA, visit the national website at You can find more information about the Durango chapter by searching SkillsUSA at And again, to donate to the fundraiser, visit and search SkillsUSA. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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