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Area Students Bring Home Medals from State Competition

Bread, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, pie and cookies baked from scratch in three-and-a-half hours was only part of a day’s work for Kayla Coppock, 17. To top it off, she even decorated a cake.

Kayla, a Kent Career Tech Center Culinary Arts program and Northview High School student, put the finishing touches on her array ofdelectable baked goods during competition at the 41st Annual State Leadership and Skills Conference for SkillsUSA Michigan.

The April 19-21 conference put students from training programs across the state to the test in skill areas ranging from Culinary Arts to Criminal Justice. More than 70 competitions took place, with winners moving on to the national competition, taking place June 24-28 in Kansas City, Mo. Events were held at several Grand Rapids locations.   

SkillsUSA Michigan is a national organization serving more than 300,000 high school, college students and professional members who are enrolled in training programs in technical skilled and service occupations. It is part of the School of Technology Studies in the College of Technology at Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti.

For students competing, it was a chance to show off their skills in a competitive, real-world environment.

“It’s real-world experience,” Kayla said of creating her assemblage of bakery items. “There’s a lot of stress in it, but I think it’s good for you to feel the stress.”

Students practiced skills they will use when they enter jobs in their fields of study, including auto service, computer maintenance technology, early childhood education, architectural drafting, audio production and many more, instructors said. It’s a way to get a taste of what it’s like working with a professional deadline or in a fast-paced environment.

IT students work towards a medal Hospitality competitors Jake Beyer, 17, a Tech Center and Forest Hills Northern student, and Rachel Goos, Tech Center and Sparta High School student, were elected to officer positions. Beyer will serve as Region 1 President and Goos as the State of Michigan Officer.

They said competing is a great experience.

“I like being able to have this opportunity to compete at a young age, at this level,” said Jake, who competed in the restaurant service competition.

“It helps me learn how to plan things out,” added Rachel, after preparing a plated meal of chicken, sauce, vegetables, soup and garnishes in four hours for the Culinary Arts competition.“It applies to life in so many ways.”

Student Standings – Skills USA

Four Kent Career Tech Center students won first-place gold medals, five recieved second-place silver medals and two finished with third-place bronze medals at the 41st Annual State Leadership and Skills Conference for SkillsUSA Michigan.

Also, two hospitality students qualified for the State of Michigan and Region 1 State Officer positions. The four first-place gold medal champions and officers will represent the Tech Center at the national competition.

Hospitality competitors Jake Beyer, from Forest Hills Northern High School, and Rachel Goos of Sparta High School, were elected to officer positions. Beyer will serve as Region 1 President and Goos as the State of Michigan Officer.

The following students took gold and qualified for nationals:

  •  Cory Sumner, Kenowa Hills High School, for State of Michigan T-Shirt Design
  •  Celeste Barret, Kenowa Hills High School, and Peter Lantz, home schooled, for 3D Animation/Visualization Team
  • Reid Tomasik, of Forest Hills Northern High School, for Architectural Drafting

These students also placed at the state competition:

  • Brooke Bulley, East Kentwood High School, and Mitchell Goodyke, Grandville High School, silver for 3D Animation and Visualization Team, Post-secondary category
  • Ray Ramos and Andrew Karsten, silver for Leadership Competitions, Adult category
  • Liam Kelley, Lowell High School, silver for JobSkills Open
  • Landon Berg, Sparta High School, silver for Auto Refinishing
  • Andria Dennison, Sparta High School, bronze for Action Skills


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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


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