Woodland High School's SkillsUSA team brings home medals including Adviser of the Year

Woodland High School’s SkillsUSA medal winners (from left to right): Katelyn Paulson, Camila Avelar, Caleb Mouat and Brooke Schimmel.

Woodland High School’s SkillsUSA team members dedicate themselves to honing their areas of expertise, and this dedication certainly shows as four students brought home six medals from the 2019 State Conference held in Yakima. In addition, organizers selected Kimberly Miller, a Woodland High School teacher who also serves as the team’s adviser, as the SkillsUSA Adviser of the Year for Washington State.

SkillsUSA, a national program, offering high school students the opportunity to compete in 100 different workplace categories. Categories focus on technical, workplace and personal skills including early childhood education, culinary arts, computer literacy, customer service, professional development and public speaking among many others.

During the regional, state and national competitions, students in each category compete in events which may include a combination of written and practical activities. For example, students competing in Customer Service must take a written test followed by a demonstration of their skills during real scenarios with challenging customer service activities such as helping a disgruntled customer return a purchase while managing phone calls, other employees and additional customer inquiries, all at the same time.

The Restaurant Service competition took more than six hours and included both written and practical tests as well. Following the written test, students met with a chef who provided a menu and table plan. The students set up the “front of the house” which included properly sanitizing the food area, setting tables to the chef’s detailed specifications, serving food as waitstaff and even taking payment for meals. “The team members must demonstrate the skills needed to manage every element of a restaurant,” explained Miller. “Add in that the category’s lengthy timeline and the competition can get pretty intense.”

In addition to fending off student teams from dozens of other Washington schools, three Woodland team members competed against each other, eventually dominating the Restaurant Service category by taking home the bronze, silver and gold medals.

Woodland High School’s team won a total of six medals in four categories:

  • Camila Avelar won the silver medal in Early Childhood Education.
  • Caleb Mouat won medals in two events. He received the gold medal for Prepared Speech and the bronze medal for Restaurant Service.
  • Katelyn Paulson won the gold medal in Restaurant Service.
  • Brooke Schimmel won medals in two events. She won the gold medal for Customer Service and the silver medal for Restaurant Service.

Club Adviser Kim Miller enjoys taking the team on the road to state and national competitions so her students can experience different parts of the state and country.

The state champions now head to the National Conference held in Louisville, Kentucky from June 24-29. Miller particularly looks forward to the annual national competitions. “I love taking the kids to the different competitions because a lot of our students haven’t seen much of the country outside of Woodland,” said Miller. “It’s great getting to see the kids experience different areas of the state and throughout the country.”

In addition to the competitions, Miller teaches her SkillsUSA students the value of giving back to the community. The SkillsUSA team caters and serves food at fundraisers, manages food drives and performs other forms of community service. “Our team organizes community service projects both in the school and also around the community,” said Miller. “The kids put in a lot of time and effort to give back to Woodland.”

Miller first learned about the SkillsUSA program from teachers in neighboring school districts more than eight years ago. “When we first started, we only competed in one category, but now we compete in restaurant service, job interview, community service, chapter excellence, medical terminology, pin design, extemporaneous speech, job demo and so much more,” she said. “In order for the team to succeed, I’m at the school a lot after hours helping the students; I make the time commitment because I see the difference the program makes for our kids.”

Miller’s dedication to Woodland’s SkillsUSA team earned her recognition at this year’s conference as the organizers selected her as the Adviser of the Year for Washington State. “It was quite the surprise and a big honor,” she said. “I had no idea the organizers were considering me!”

The SkillsUSA team is holding a fundraiser on Friday, May 24 featuring a free presentation of Disney’s “Lion King” movie at Woodland High School with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the movie starting at 7:30 p.m.

All of Woodland’s families and community members are invited to attend. The team will be preparing and selling snacks including popcorn, candy and cupcakes with funds raised from concession sales going to pay for transportation and other expenses incurred from going to and from the team’s regional, state and national competitions.

Woodland High School students interested in joining SkillsUSA can attend any of the meetings which take place on Thursdays during advisory period. They can also reach out to Kimberly Miller via email at millerk@woodlandschools.org or visit the SkillsUSA website at www.skillsusa.org for more information.