Technical high schools throughout Connecticut converge on Meriden for big competition


MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Students from 17 technical high schools throughout Connecticut are taking part in a big competition on Friday. All of it part of SkillsUSA.

Jesse Piro is a senior at Vinal Tech in Middletown. On Friday, he was at Wilcox Tech in Meriden taking part in the competition. Last year, he placed second. This year, he’s hoping for the top spot when it comes to cabinet making.

“I’m hoping to just fix the little mistakes I made here and there last year,” said Piro. “I believe I’ve grown.”

Each student is competing based on their specific area of study. The majority of the competitions are at Wilcox Tech, while the others are at different locations across the state.

“Today’s conference is a compilation of activities from the course of the year. From leadership training to trade skills,” said Heidi Griffen, executive director of SkillsUSA Connecticut. “We are competing in 72 different events.”

Those events range from the cabinet making to culinary work. As well as robotics, hairdressing and automotive — just to name a few. Every student has their work judged. The goal is to be awarded the top of your trade. The finalists will be narrowed down to a small group. From there, a big winner will be announced. The awards will be handed out to students Friday evening at New Britain High School. The big winners will then go on to the national competition in June, which is held in Louisville, Kentucky.

“After the competition is over you feel so accomplished. You’re just so proud of yourself,” said Allison Butkus, state secretary for SkillsUSA Connecticut

As if the competition wasn’t stressful enough, more than 150 employers from across Connecticut and the region are taking notice of the students, which means some of them may have a job offer down the road, depending on their work.

“Every single student must submit their resumes as part of their competition. Those employers then have direct access to those students,” said Griffen.

It may be a competition, but the students will tell you it’s also about showcasing their talent — win or lose.

“I mean at the end of the day it’s just good to be around people who have the same interests as you,” said Piro.

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