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3 CEC students attend, 1 wins big, at national competition

Three SkillsUSA team members from the Coweta County School system’s Central Educational Center (CEC) competed in this summer’s national SkillsUSA Championships held in Kansas City. When the competition was over Kim Crabtree had placed 6th in the nation in Graphic Communications.

All three CEC team members, all gold-medal winners from the Georgia competitions held earlier this year, competed in the 2012 SkillsUSA Championships held in Kansas City, Missouri June 23-27 as part of SkillsUSA’s 48th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC).

Team members participating from CEC were Kim Crabtree, Robert Fields, and Jakob Blondell. CEC’s Graphic Communications contestant, Kim Crabtree, placed sixth in the nation. Robert Fields and Jakob Blondell participated as a team in the Web Design contest, said school system Public Information Officer Dean Jackson.

CEC is a charter college and career academy that links local businesses, the Coweta County School System and West Georgia Technical College in a unique partnership. CEC connects East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate High School students with advanced career-tech opportunities, some of which culminate in SkillsUSA competitions, Jackson said.

Jackson said all three contestants were also part of the Coweta County School System’s Work-Based Learning program, participating this past school year in internships that gave them additional opportunities to increase their skill sets. Kim Crabtree is a senior at Coweta High School. Jakob Blondell is a senior and Robert Fields is a junior, both at Newnan High School.

Kim Crabtree competed in the seven-part Graphic Communications contest. The criteria for that contest included:

-Graphics: Overall Visual Appeal

-Digital Workflow: Preflight operations, corrections and review overall quality

-Electronic Prepress: Create a file with InDesign that matches sample

-Finishing: Operate automated paper cutter and folder to specifications

-Offset Press: install plate and print two-color file

-Oral Professional Assessment: Participate in an interview exercise

-Production Planning: Solve problems relating to paper, ink and production

-Technical Knowledge Test: Complete a general technical knowledge test.

Also competing at the championships were senior Jakob Blondell and junior Robert Fields. They competed in the web design contest in which students demonstrate skills in Web Programming (such as HTML, XHTML and CSS), Web graphics, web site design, web accessibility and usability, web site management, project management, presentation, Web multimedia and professionalism based on criteria including:

-Graphics: Overall Visual Appeal

-Graphics: Mechanical Aspects

-Design and Layout: Look & Feel

-Design and Layout: Navigation

-Programming: Compatibility

-Programming Code Structure & Design

-Scaffolding of Process – Diagram/Flowchart

-Richness of Process – Interview

-Written Exams

-Professionalism – Presentation, Interview and Submission

Fields and Blondell also attended a seminar led by Yahoo Staff Production Designer Cindy Li, who stressed creating a balanced life as part of a successful web design career.
“(The conference) changed our perspective on web site design and increased our desire to use new tools and methods in designing,” Blondell said.

The three CEC competitors were among several CEC students who won first place medals at the 2012 SkillsUSA Georgia's Leadership Conference and Skills Competition. CEC team members won 7 medals in 9 events at that competition, including the three first place gold medal winners. The competition was held at the Georgia International Conference Center March 15-17.

CEC students in the past five years have come home with medals from Skills USA competition in areas such as Web Design, Flight Operations, Preschool Teaching Assistant, 3D Animation, Computer Maintenance, Technical Computer Applications, Commercial Baking, Culinary Arts, Advertising Design, First Aid and CPR, Welding and Dental Assisting competitions.

CEC was designed by local community leaders. The center recently completed its 12th year of operation and is the “model” upon which Georgia’s Charter College and Career Academy Initiative is based. Twenty-five other communities in Georgia have replicated or are planning to replicate CEC. Other states also have communities which have begun replication efforts, said Jackson.

Representatives from 16 other nations have visited CEC to study this Coweta County innovation.

SkillsUSA competitions feature competitions for public high school and college/postsecondary technical students enrolled in a variety career and technical education programs. Students are given on-site tasks that test their mastery of their skills areas.  Web design, for example, must create a web page from instructions given at the competition, according to industry specifications and standards.  Flight operations teams go through a series of flights on the simulator as well as written tests.  Graphic Communications will be given a job to build and run on a press.

SkillsUSA organizes the national event, which is considered the single greatest day of industry volunteerism in America every year at an estimated cost of more than $35 million.

Begun in 1967, the SkillsUSA Championships has grown from 54 competitors in three contests to more than 5,500 competitors in 94 hands-on skill and leadership contests this year. SkillsUSA affiliated instructional programs represent 130 different occupational areas. The competition showroom floor encompasses more than 16 football field’s worth of space.


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