GUERNSEY – Although the SkillsUSA national competition was held online this year and caused each student to do more work to enter and prepare, Guernsey-Sunrise high school seniors Macoyia Stoneking, TyLinn Cooper, Jayden Butlear and Alexis Elmore were more than up to the challenge.
Stoneking won a national award for nursing assistant, while Cooper, Elmore and Butler all won awards in the community service competition.
“SkillsUSA is a program that started my sophomore year,” Cooper said. “It was something that kind of brought all of us together. It was really cool for our school to have something like that because it has every program. There’s welding, there’s cooking, there’s nursing assistant, there’s community service and it’s pretty cool.”
SkillsUSA competes with other students around the state and the nation in technical things applied to life skills which resembles a technical school within a high school setting. And it’s all volunteer.
“It’s really cool to meet everybody,” Cooper said. “We’re from a small town and we don’t get to meet many people. Even at the state competitions, we get to see such diversity from city to city. And nobody really knows about SkillsUSA so it’s incredible to meet other kids who actually know what it is.”
Students meeting other students their same age from different areas can be both enlightening and also humorous.
“There were kids who, when we told them we were from Wyoming, they asked if we went to school on horseback or with horse and buggy,” Stoneking said with a laugh. “And of course, we told them we did.”
The Guernsey-Sunrise team not only did well in state, taking the SkillsUSA 1A-2A championship, but also placed well in nationals.
“My team at state which consisted of myself, Alexis Elmore and Jayden Butler won gold at state,” she said. “Our team then went on to nationals and we won the bronze award for our presentation dealing with community service. The state tournament was in Casper and we actually got to go.”
Stoneking, who was in a different category also came through with some hardware.
“I did nursing assisting and won gold at state,” Stoneking said. “I then went on to nationals and I got a bronze award at nationals. It felt amazing. I had to do what they called ‘clinical’ and I had to get a mannequin and I actually had to put dentures in that mannequin. It’s like a CNA where I took care of a person.”
In 2020 the SkillsUSA competition was cancelled due to COVID. This year with nationals being held in Atlanta, GA, and that state still being stringent with COVID restrictions, the SkillsUSA nationals were all done virtually which posed some extra problems and a bigger workload for the entrants.
“For nationals we had to record our presentation and we only could record it once,” Cooper said. “If you messed up on that recording you still had to send it in. We had to have a timer up there that was visible to the online judges. We also had to turn in our chapter book that was in our hands to the online person and we had to scan every page to Atlanta.”
Although the girls were disappointed that they didn’t actually get to attend nationals, their excitement level was still as high as it could be with confetti poppers over a zoom screen when the winners were announced.
The Guernsey-Sunrise team with the win this year are now back-to-back state champions.