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SkillsUSA Medal Winner Addresses BOE

Friday, August 18, 2017

Melissa Phelps shows her medals

Career and Technical Education (CTE) student Melissa Phelps who took home the silver medal, as she placed second in the Basic Health Care competition at the SkillsUSA 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky., from June 19 to 23, addressed the WSWHE BOCES Board of Education at its regular meeting on August 9th.

The National Leadership and Skills Conference showcases Career and Technical Education students. More than 17,000 people — including students, teachers and business partners — participated in the weeklong event. Melissa said the best part of the conference was meeting people and making connections in her career field. She credited all of the staff involved in SkillsUSA at CTE for being so supportive and encouraging.

In June, Melissa received a completion certificate from the Health Occupations program at the F. Donald Myers Education Center in Saratoga Springs. She is also a recent graduate from Saratoga Springs High School.

Melissa explained to the Board that in the Basic Health Care competition, she was required to complete 6 tests: properly put on surgical gloves, perform CPR, exhibit the right technique for doing a safe patient transfer, complete a job application and perform a job interview, and identify anatomy. In addition, she made a 5 to 7 minute presentation on a topic of her choice within the Basic Health Care field. Her presentation was about the task of taking blood pressure, which she presented to three judges.

When asked if she feels more prepared for the next steps in life because of the competitions, Melissa said “I definitely feel I am. One of the things I have taken away from my training and SkillsUSA is professionalism. It has helped me in a lot of aspects of my life so far,” said Melissa.

District Superintendent James Dexter noted that Melissa was very modest when speaking to the Board; she used the word ‘participated’ when discussing the competitions. When looking at her 1st place gold medal from the State competition and the 2nd place silver medal from the National competition, he said “those are not participation medals.”

They sure aren’t. Board of Education President John Rieger asked Melissa to pass the medals around to Board members. While WSWHE BOCES has had a number of top placing students at SkillsUSA, Melissa was one of the first to address the Board of Education. Rieger said, “I have been around a long time with the BOCES, and for you to have reached the epitome of the top of where you are today, we are just absolutely proud.”

Melissa works full time at the Saratoga Center for Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Care. She has enlisted in the Army National Guard and is eligible to train as a Health Care Specialist. She says the training she received at CTE and experience of SkillsUSA has helped her to get to this point.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It has an applied method of instruction for preparing America’s high performance workers in public Career and Technical Education programs. SkillsUSA provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship, and character development. It emphasizes total quality at work – high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education, and pride in the dignity of work. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service.

Every year, CTE students compete in local SkillsUSA competitions at the F. Donald Myers and Southern Adirondack Education Centers in order to earn the chance to compete at the SkillsUSA Regional, New York State, and National competitions. WSWHE BOCES is one of the top New York schools in terms of medal counts at the SkillsUSA State Championships.

Each competition measures a student’s hands-on skills in his or her chosen field of study including nursing, baking, welding, auto repair, and carpentry as well as interviewing for jobs and public speaking. Students are given an assignment that must be completed within a set time frame. Business and industry leaders judge the competitions. Students prepare for the competition for months, often staying after school to be coached by their teachers, and the prizes are well worth the effort. Some students receive scholarships and awards as a result of their exceptional performance at a competition.

SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit organization, is devoted to rewarding students for excellence, for involving industry in directly evaluating student performance, and for keeping career training relevant to employers’ needs. To learn more, click here.

Check out a recent interview on LookTV with Melissa Phelps.



Melissa addressing the WSWHE BOCES Board of Education