Wilkes Community College was one of the leading schools in the state in overall medal counts at the 56th Annual SkillsUSA North Carolina Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-23, 2021, conducted virtually with the awards ceremony held on April 26, 2021.

Wilkes Community College’s 35 student competitors, including six Career & College Promise high school students, brought home 30 medals: 20 first-place gold medals, five second-place silver medals, four third-place bronze medals, and one fourth-place finish. Of the 35 WCC competitors, 30 placed in the top five, and everyone placed in the top 10 in the state. WCC was named as part of the North Carolina SkillsUSA Elite 100 Club, which means WCC has had over 100 students competing for the last five years.

WCC student’s Top 5 results were as follows:

  • Architectural Drafting – Brian Tyler, first place
  • Automotive Refinishing Technology – Michael Phillips, first place; Tyler Reavis, second place; Amber Lusk, third place
  • Collision Damage Appraisal – Brandon McGrady, first place; Jordan Spears, second place; Josh Watts, third place
  • Collision Repair Technology – Colt Cline, first place; Devin Honeycutt, second place; Kyle Moretz, third place
  • Diesel Equipment Technology College– Clint Jones, first place; Evan Gibson, second place; Grayson Sale, third place; Tanner Scruggs, fourth place
  • Diesel Equipment Technology CCP – Raul Limon -Wilkes Early College HS, first place
  • Health Knowledge Bowl – Kaitlyn Bailey, Alisha Everhardt, Amanda Carpenter, and Amanda Severt, first place team
  • Internetworking – Jonathan Latos, first place
  • Medical Math – Raegan Gragg, second place
  • Pin Design – Bailey Hutchens – first place
  • Power Equipment Technology – Alesha Mulholland, first place
  • Power Equipment Technology CCP – West Wilkes HS- Matthew Blankenship, first place
  • T-Shirt Design –Ashley Bauguess, fifth place
  • Welding Fabrication College Team – Samuel Cockerham, Aaron Haymore, and Thomas Watts, first place team
  • Welding Fabrication CCP Team – Wilkes Central High School- Ryan Johnson, Blake Owens, and Elijah Walker, first place team

Twenty of the first-place winners will now represent North Carolina and Wilkes Community College at the 54th SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky., on June 1-16, 2021, virtually.

“It feels great to be a part of the Wilkes Community College faculty and staff and Wilkes County School System. We have a group of the absolute best students in the state, and they proved that at the SkillsUSA state competition,” said advisor Hardin Kennedy. “During the awards ceremony, it was apparent to everyone that WCC, our students, and the faculty and staff lead North Carolina in education and leadership skills. Everyone is to be commended for their accomplishments, including this community that so whole-heartedly supports Wilkes Community College and Wilkes County Schools.”

“In addition to their awards and recognition, our students can be proud that they were awarded the opportunity to receive scholarship monies, tools, and equipment from sponsoring vendors to further their education,” adds Kennedy. “These students have proven that they have the skills needed to succeed in the workplace and are willing to take a step outside of the normal box, building a stronger workforce for this region. Still, many of them may elect to go on to expand their skills. So, these prizes will help those students achieve that ambition.”

WCC Co-Advisor, Jaime Reavis shared, “This year’s competition being virtual was somewhat of a challenge and the students stepped outside their comfort zone and tackled it head-on. It was amazing to watch the students cheer on the other contestants as we watched the awards ceremony together. These students are not only an inspiration to each other but to faculty and staff as well, and I would like to say thank you. With their abilities to think outside the box and take on challenges without hesitation, I believe they will be an asset to our workforce.”

Wilkes Community College is proud to host the SkillsUSA Northwest Region Rally and Career Showcase each year and we appreciate the community support and the help we receive from WCC’s SkillsUSA club. The college would like to recognize and thank the following sponsors: WCC faculty and staff, Adams Old Castle – Williams Roberts, Appalachian Cabinets, ARC 3 Welding Supply, Blevins Building Supply, Blue Ridge Tractor, Flowers Auto Parts, HD Supply, High Country Paint, Home Builders Association of Wilkes and Yadkin, Impact Collision, John Deere with James River Equipment, Kris Dell Applied Software, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, McNeill Nissan, Mike’s Body Shop, Millers Creek Volunteer Fire Department, North Carolina Association of Electrical Contractors, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Pardue’s Welding, Payne Power Equipment, Pine Hall Brick, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of NC, Inc., Snap-on Tools, Specialty Fabricators, Statesville Brick, The Welding Company, Triad Freightliner, Western Carolina Electric, Weyerhaeuser, Yadkin Well Company, Inc., and Window World, Inc.

Additional monetary donations were given by Carolina West Wireless, Duke Energy Foundation, Victoria and Evan Handy, Nancy and George Koen, Jr., Becky and Arnold Lakey, Barbara A. Parsons, NC Community College’s Foundation, Inc., Town of North Wilkesboro, Lisa and Mac Warren, and Window World, Inc.

In addition, contributors to the WCC Annual Fund Drive can designate that their donation be applied to the WCC SkillsUSA club. Allison Phillips, executive director of the WCC Foundation stated, “We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the donors that have contributed to the SkillsUSA club with their gift to the Annual Fund Drive. Through your generosity, we can continue to provide the much-needed financial assistance for WCC students to participate in the State and National SkillsUSA Competitions in Greensboro, N.C. and Louisville, Ky. On behalf of myself and the WCC Foundation, we wish our students the best of luck at Nationals.”

About WCC Skills USA Club

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and helping each student excel. SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

While the highlights of the club’s year are the state and national competitions, students work year-round to prepare for competition and to promote SkillsUSA. Most recently, WCC hosted the Region 7 SkillsUSA Conference and Career Showcase on February 27, 2019, which turned out to be the largest gathering in the state as well as the largest in WCC’s history of hosting the regional gathering. This annual educational and professional development activity is open to all SkillsUSA members and advisors, high school Career and Technical Education students, business and industry partners, and educational partners. The event included SkillsUSA competitions and the opportunity for high school students to explore the many career training opportunities available to them at WCC.

In 2005, Transportation Technology Chairperson Hardin Kennedy organized and developed the Wilkes Community College SkillsUSA Club. In 2006, Wilkes Community College was represented at the state and national competition in its first year of competing with 12 students from various engineering technology disciplines. Each year, participation in the SkillsUSA Club grows as students and faculty learn the benefits of being involved.

This active club operates with significant support from local individuals, businesses, and organizations. That assistance helps to offset the cost of hosting events and traveling to competitions. For more information about supporting SkillsUSA, contact Hardin Kennedy at 336-838-6219 or hckennedy819@wilkescc.edu.

For more information on donating to the WCC Foundation or the Annual Fund, contact the Wilkes Community College Development Office at 336-838-6491. Contributions may be sent to WCC Foundation, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC, 28697.