The Carroll County Career & Technology Center was quiet around noon Saturday, as the more than 70 participants from Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard and Baltimore counties were knee-deep in their regional SkillsUSA challenges.
With categories including electrical engineering, cosmetology, commercial baking, health knowledge and welding, skills students have been developing for the past few years were put to the test. The top three schools at regionals will head to the state competition, and then the winners at the state level will head to Kentucky for nationals.
“It’s similar to sports for us,” said SkillsUSA adviser Tim Norwood, standing at the entrance of the school on Feb. 9. “The SkillsUSA competitions are career and tech sports teams.
“And they are gracious competitors,” he said. “They have good sportsmanship.”
Out of the 21 competition winners ranging from first to third place, more than half of them came from Carroll County — which placed gold in five out of the seven categories.
Down the hall, the seven cosmetology students competing had just finished up their assignments by 12:30 p.m.
“They have to do a haircut, blow-dry style and a fantasy style,” said Cori Lewis, one of CCCTC’s cosmetology instructors. “Fantasy is very creative, avant-garde, and it’s very technical.”
The three Carroll County students Jordyn Griffin Caiyle Parish, and Nicolette Frick, all 17 years old, were clad in black and awaiting judging.
“I knew I wanted to do something dramatic,” Frick, the first place winner, said of her fantasy hair-style. “It’s got kind of rocker vibes.”
The Westminster resident said she got some ideas from Pinterest, and then found a way to combine various styles including voluminous fishtail braids.
Frick works at The Spa on West Main in Westminster and said that, for her, cosmetology has always been a passion.
“My boss had been doing my mom’s and my family’s hair since I was really young,” she said, “and so I knew I wanted to do it. She got me into the program and told me ever since I was 12 years old that if I went to school I had a job there as a shampoo tech.”
Health Knowledge Bowl
Norwood described the Health Knowledge Bowl as a “jeopardy-style trivia contest,” where all the questions revolve around healthcare, nursing, phlebotomy and insurance.
Eastern Technical High School, from Baltimore County, won gold in the Health Knowledge Bowl Saturday, with Western School of Technology, also from Baltimore County, winning silver, and Howard County’s Applications and Research Laboratory winning bronze.
“Our magnet provides us the education to be able to answer those questions,” said Martha Chongwa, 16, sitting with her teammates from Western Tech after the competition.
“But we also have to study on our own,” Blessing Abegunde, 16, added.
Abegunde said she became interested in the Academy of Health Professions program at Western Tech because it’s always been a dream of hers to become a doctor.
Chongwa said for her, it was seeing the drug epidemic and hoping she could make a difference as a pharmacist.
“If I become a pharmacist,” she said, “I can help with this epidemic plaguing our country.”
For their teammate Abdullah Bajwah, 17, it was about joining a profession that many of his family members have entered.
“I wanted to be a pharmacist like my dad,” he explained, “but a lot of people in my family have heart problems so I decided to do cardiology.”
The students said the inspiration to take part in the SkillsUSA came in part from previous students who said it helped them prepare for their future careers.
Mike Schweinsberg, a welding instructor at the Tech Center, sat with his group of nine students while some ate lunch and others finished their welding assignments on Saturday.
He opened a packet with instructions that showed various welding and cutting processes the students needed to complete, the buzzing from the welding shop a constant in the background.
Harford Technical High School student Jake Shroeder, 18, said that he came into the competition prepared, and that he likes structural steel and fabrication the most.
“I just liked [welding] ever since I knew what it was,” he said.
His classmate, Jared Pomfrey, 17, said he felt like he did well but also felt there were some aspects of the competition he could have practiced more.
“I’ve just always been interested in working with my hands,” said Pomfrey, “and when I heard about this school I thought it was a cool opportunity.”
Norwood said the 2019 year marks his 16th year as a Skills USA advisor, and that throughout the years he has seen the competition grow in popularity.
“2003 was my first year as an advisor,” he said. “We sent 16 students [from Carroll County] to the state competition. Last year we sent 78.”
He said last year Carroll sent 23 gold medal students to Kentucky.
“The numbers continue to rise,” Norwood said. “Students and staff are seeing the benefits Skills USA offers.
“We’re training the leaders of the workforce.”
Health Knowledge Bowl
1st – Eastern Technical High School (Baltimore County)
2nd – Western School of Technology (Baltimore County)
3rd – Applications and Research Lab (Howard County)
1st – Nicolette Frick, CCCTC (Carroll County)
2nd – Lori Gostomski, Cecil County School of Technology (Cecil County)
3rd – Coty Lidke, Cecil County School of Technology (Cecil County)
1st – Anthony Fertitta, CCCTC (Carroll County)
2nd – Adam Barnes, CCCTC (Carroll County)
3rd – Sam Mullen, Harford Technical High School (Harford County)
1st – Jake Schroeder Harford Technical High School (Harford County)
2nd – John Leister, CCCTC (Carroll County)
3rd – Michael Fulton, CCCTC (Carroll County)
Baking & Pastry
1st – Emily Klezer, CCCTC (Carroll County)
2nd – Shelby Rosenbloom, CCCTC (Carroll County)
3rd – Sophia Dickmyer, CCCTC (Carroll County)
1st – Dai Wei Chen, CCCTC (Carroll County)
2nd – Austin Harvey, CCCTC (Carroll County)
3rd – Kevin Stammler, North East High School (Cecil County)
1st – Meaghan Pattison, CCCTC (Carroll County)
2nd – Katherine Tye, CCCTC (Carroll County)
3rd — Amanda Choong, CCCTC (Carroll County)