A select group of students from Mid-Coast School of Technology have returned from a trip to the SkillsUSA National Championship in Louisville, Ky. SkillsUSA is an organization that encourages the development of America's skilled workforce. Competitions are held annually in everything from automotive repair to welding and fabrication to video game design.

This year, some students attended as state officers (Emily Leary and Brianna Garner), while others competed in auto fefinishing (Alden Wadsworth), community service (Brianna Dugan, Olivia Wheeler and Emily Leary), and video game design (Hillary Blake and Owen Dehlinger).

However, the journey for these students began some time ago. They had already excelled at local and statewide competitions to earn the right to compete at nationals.

After months of preparation and fundraising, and with the support of several local businesses, the students and their advisers departed June 19 for Louisville. The trip presented a wealth of experiences. At the opening ceremony, students heard from longtime career and technical education supporter Mike Rowe. There was a weeklong technology expo. They also had plenty of recreational opportunities, such as a river boat cruise on the Ohio River, a tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum, and a visit to the Kentucky Kingdom Theme Park. Still, what brought them to Louisville was the opportunity to demonstrate their skills.

Alden Wadsworth participated in the highly competitive automotive refinishing contest at the college level. Brianna Dugan, Olivia Wheeler and Emily Leary presented their community service project, which benefited Pope Memorial Humane Society earlier this year. They received seventh place.

Hillary Blake and Owen Dehlinger presented the video game, “The Foreign Land,” they had developed over the past year. They received the second-highest score at the college level. Hillary Blake summed up the experience. “SkillsUSA was a good growing experience to go through. Both states and nationals allowed me to use various skills that will likely help me in my future pursuit of my career.”