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Students place in national competition

July 24, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

When Patrick Breakall first learned how to design Web sites almost one year ago, he said he wasn't very good.

But he liked designing graphics and working with the programs so much that he continued to work at it until he improved.

In June, Breakall, a senior at Washington County Technical High School, and his classmate, Derrick Flook, placed seventh in a national Web site design competition.

Breakall and Flook first competed as a team in a state competition in March. The pair placed first in that contest, and advanced to the June 19 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo. They competed against about 35 other teams in the showcase of career and technical education students from across the country, said Amanda Corcoran, their computer repair and networking teacher.

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Breakall and Flook placed seventh in the nation in that event. Another Technical High School student, Darron Hamrick, competed in the automotive technology competition and placed 27th. All three placed No. 1 in Maryland in order to qualify for the event.

"I was quite surprised that we got that far," Flook said. "The state competition wasn't so much pressure. The nationals put me in a more pressure situation to do better and achieve more than I usually do."

Flook primarily works with coding for the Web sites, and Breakall focuses on creating graphics.

"Coding is basically like my back hand to me," Flook said. "It's basically what runs everything in the computer. It's something I like to do."

Breakall said he and Flook worked with Web design in class, and decided to compete as a team in the state and national competitions.

"I was ecstatic," Flook said. "I was surprised we did so well. We'd only been doing it for a little bit, and there were people who have been doing this for five years straight, and we were right up there with them."

Marjorie Kellman, the SkillsUSA lead adviser at Washington County Technical High School, said that as far as she knows, this year's competition was the school's best showing.

There were 4,700 students competing at SkillsUSA in 84 different contests.

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