MILTON, Ga. — There are plenty of hefty numbers associated with the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Competition held June 22-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.
There were 6,500 student competitors from 50 states and U.S. territories, 19,000 in attendance and over 100 competitions ranging from criminal justice, 3D animation and practical nursing. Another significant figure is the number of students from Cambridge’s SkillUSA chapter — 21 — who placed in the top-10 of competitions, more than any other school in the nation.
Cambridge students excelled on the national stage, winning gold in broadcast news and TV production and medaling in architectural drafting, criminal justice and audio/radio production. Another 11 students earned top-10 placements in chapter business procedure, career pathway showcase health services, and 3D animation and visualization.
For each competition, students are given a prompt or set of tasks to be completed over two days. Examples include executing a high-risk traffic stop and a written test for criminal justice and developing a news package in the broadcast news competition.
Thomas Washburn, Cambridge law and justice program instructor, said a single school placing 21 students in the top-10 is an incredible feat, especially considering the demanding competition, which only includes state champions.
“It’s exciting, and at the [awards] ceremony it really got surreal,” he said. “Nobody does this, it’s not heard of. We have some phenomenal programs and teachers. When you go to the nationals, the competition is insane. We have had strong years at nationals, but 21 kids in the top-10 against thousands of the most skilled kids in the nation, I can’t say enough about the accomplishment.”
Washburn credited his fellow instructor, Hal Funderburk, the school’s audio-video technology and film instructor, for his students’ exceptional showing in digital media competition in just his second year with the school. Cambridge swept the Georgia state championships in 3D visualization and animation, digital cinema production and TV production.
Washburn said the judges were blown away by Cambridge’s digital media students.
“We were asked about six or eight times if the students had actually come up with their package themselves,” Washburn said. “They just couldn’t believe it.”
Cambridge’s talents extend beyond digital media, with medals earned in criminal justice and architectural drafting.
“Christine Lim took second in criminal justice, and she is a better cop at 18 years old than I was in seven years as a cop,” Washburn said. “She took 10th in the nation last year and was determined to come back and medal this year. She’s a fighter. Chris Fettes was second in architectural drafting, and that kid is just so talented.”
Cambridge students were also well represented at the nationals meet outside of competitions. The school’s law and justice honor guard were selected to present the colors at the opening ceremony, and Joseph Capponi, Holly Lydiatt and Maxwell Flom joined Cambridge rising senior and Georgia SkillUSA State President Andrew Maiorino as national voting delegates to govern SkillsUSA chapters.
Cambridge’s performance at the 2019 nationals continues the school’s success in career pathway training. The chapter has sent students to the national competition in all eight years since its founding.