Top of the Class: Career Center students bring home bronze at state SkillsUSA competition

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Marissa Beardsley shows Community Foundation of Warren County Executive Director Mark King one of her drawings at the Warren County Career Center on Wednesday. The Community Foundation has provided funds to help cover the cost of the SkillsUSA program.

Five Warren County Career Center students brought back bronze medals from the state SkillsUSA competition held in Hershey earlier this month.

Those awards are worthy of being celebrated.

But those awards are rooted in high achievement, a commitment to excellence and learning skills that can pay off for these students for life.

Marissa Beardsley took bronze in technical drafting while Kaylee Lundmark, Caidence Braley, Andria Anderson and Jacey Reagle brought home the third-place prize in entrepreneurship.

The two competitions couldn’t have been more different.

Photo provided to the Times Observer Four marketing students at the Warren County Career Center, from left, Jacey Reagle, Caidence Braley, Kaylee Lundmark and Andria Anderson, took bronze in entrepreneurship at the state SkillsUSA competition.

Beardsley had five hours to complete technical drawings for a butterfly valve.

Lundmark, Braley, Anderson and Reagle had months to develop a business, finance and marketing plan.

“Basically, what we had to do was create our own business from scratch,” Braley said.

It included marketing, business and finance plans as well as identifying a location and developing a logo, social media and branding tools.

“We created a cabin company called Cozy Cabins,” she added.

Photo provided to the Times Observer Marissa Beardsley brought home a bronze medal in technical drafting from the SkillsUSA state competition held earlier this month in Hershey.

They located the venture in Clarendon.

Lundmark said they originally decided on Tionesta but switched because of its proximity to the Allegheny River.

“That was our main pinpoint,” Braley said, the proximity to the river and Jakes Rocks.

Clarendon is “kind of in between everything,” Anderson said.

They then split up the work – Lundmark did the finance, Braley did the marketing piece, Anderson tackled the HR element and Reagle developed the business plan.

Part of the competition challenge is taking the months of work and boiling it down to a 12-minute presentation at the competition.

“We kind of just made a PowerPoint of the main things you wanted to cover,” Braley said.

“I know I was getting into the financial side,” Lundmark said. “I work at a credit union. I learned how to make the sheets, three years worth of balance sheets, income and cash flow.”

She said the pitch to the judges is as if you’re asking for a loan to fund the proposal.

Braley said they settled on their business concept because they all knew about the location while Anderson added that it was a project that would “bring people into our small community.”

Skills USA advisor Fred Backhus called the project a “cumulative package.

“They spent a lot of time on it,” he added, and were “not far from a first or second to be honest with you.”

While they had months to craft their proposal and pitch, Beardsley had about five hours at the competition to design the butterfly valve.

“We draw it while sitting there on the clock,” she said, calling it “difficult but a learning experience.”

Backhus said Beardsley was actually at a bit of a disadvantage based on the AutoCAD software she works on versus the SOLIDWORKS software others had at their disposal. He said there are automation elements in that software not available in AutoCAD.

Beardsley said the software she uses is “sometimes more difficult to work with” but is “more hands on.”

She specifically said it can pose some challenges when going from 2D to 3D design or “when trying to do fast models. It’s just more difficult.”

“I’m glad we learned AutoCAD,” he said. “It’s helpful in the long run.”

Beardsley sees an engineering career in her future though she isn’t quite sure what field yet.

Going into this competition, she said she “didn’t really expect much.”

“I did decent at districts,” she said.

That’s an understatement as she took first place at that level.

“States is a whole different thing,” she noted.

She was hoping to place but not expecting to.

“I’m glad I did,” she said. “(It was) definitely a big opportunity and I did like it.”

Mark King, executive director of the Community Foundation of Warren County, met with students at the Career Center on Wednesday, including Beardsley.

The Community Foundation, Backhus said, has contributed $2,500 to cover the cost of the SkillsUSA program next year.

“More students… will be able to compete at the District level because of the generous grant,” he said.


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