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(From left) Franklin County Career Technical Center students celebrate big wins at the North Alabama District SkillsUSA contest Feb. 28: Jose Gamino, Belgreen High School, first-place carpentry; Andy Nava, Tharptown High School, third-place prepared speech; and Alyssa Betts, Belgreen High School, first-place related technical math.

FCCTC students win big at district contest

Feb. 28 was a big day for the Franklin County Career Technical Center’s cabinet-making program, as three FCCTC students attended the North Alabama SkillsUSA District Contest at Wallace State in Hanceville – and brought home some top prizes for their efforts.

“This is one of three district contests across the state of Alabama used to prepare students for the upcoming Alabama SkillsUSA State Conference/Contest at the BJCC in Birmingham,” explained cabinet-making instructor Todd Johnson. He said SkillsUSA, an organization that partners students, industry and educators, is an integral part of the Career Tech programs offered in Franklin County. “This is our student organization, much like 4H or FFA, and is specific to technical education courses. These students come to our center every day and learn ‘real-world’ skills needed to graduate and start a prosperous career.”

Johnson said the annual contests allow students to pit the skills they have learned against other students from across the state.

Jose Gamino, a Belgreen student who is in his second year of the program with Johnson, competed in the carpentry contest, in which students had to lay out and frame a wall, common rafters and a stair stringer – “skills that are not what you’d learn in an everyday classroom but are important to join the construction trade,” Johnson noted.

Gamino placed first in the contest.

Alyssa Betts, a first-year student also from Belgreen, competed in related technical math, which Johnson described as “no easy feat for the average student.”

This contest consisted of algebra, trigonometry and calculus, and students were given two hours to take a 50-question exam. Betts placed first in the contest.

Andy Nava, a Tharptown student who is in his first year of the cabinet-making program, competed in the prepared speech contest and placed third.

“Andy really surprised me,” Johnson said. “I knew he had it in him, but it sort of came together at the last minute.”

For this event, students had to deliver their five- to seven-minute speeches, unassisted, on a known topic.

“I am very proud of the effort these students put in,” Johnson said. “These contests are open for most all students in the program, but few realize their potential and actually go for it. It paid off for these three, and I hope that by coming back with these medals, other students will gain interest and try it next year.   

“In the end, we teachers just open doors; students have to want to walk through them.”

All three students now advance to the state contest in April.