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Franklin County vocational students going to national competition

May 17, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Brian Bittinger, Jared Freeman, Travis Byers and Brett Murr plan to build a kitchen in just three days next month in Kansas City, Mo., and then tear their creation apart on the fourth day.

The four, along with five female students from the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, topped state competitions to advance to the SkillsUSA Championships, which pits the best individuals and teams from vocational schools across the nation against each other in trade, technical and service disciplines.

"We build it from foundation to finish, drywall, etc.," said Bittinger, a Chambersburg Area Senior High School senior who is studying plumbing. "I will be doing the sink, garbage disposal, dishwasher and maybe an outdoor faucet."

Freeman is a home-schooled junior from Waynesboro, Pa., but is studying to become an electrician at the career center. He said he will be doing the counter receptacles, lighting, appliances and other electrical work.

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The foundation and brickwork will be up to Murr, of Waynesboro Area Senior High School, who is studying masonry.

Framing the floor, walls and windows, hanging drywall, mounting cabinets and doing the finishing trim will be the responsibility of Byers, a senior from James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, Pa.

"Maybe a roof frame, too. We don't even know 100 percent what we're going to do," Byers said of the competition, which runs from June 22 to 28.

"We all learn a little bit of each other's trade to help each other out as a team," Bittinger said.

"We all had job offers through our competitions" at the district and state levels, Bittinger said. All either are working now or have jobs lined up, with employers or unions ready to pay for additional instruction for advanced certifications.

Ashley Allen, a junior at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, is going to Kansas City for a demonstration in the Action Skills category for landscaping and horticulture.

"I have to do a demonstration speech on how to put a wildflower basket together," said Allen, who plans to study veterinary medical technology at Wilson College after high school.

The center also is sending a pair of cosmetology teams to SkillsUSA, Andrea Rhone of Chambersburg and Allyssa Jarrett of James Buchanan, and Emily Gloss and Tara Bittinger, both of Chambersburg.

In addition to tests, Rhone said she will be giving a facial and massage movement demonstration with the assistance of Jarrett, another cosmetology student who will act as a model.

The biggest challenge for Jarrett might be staying still and silent for long periods of time during the demonstrations, Johnston said.

Gloss will be doing the same, using Bittinger as a model to demonstrate tweezing an eyebrow arch.

Bittinger made the mistake of calling it "eyebrow plucking."

"It's tweezing," Gloss said.

"What's the difference?" Bittinger asked.

"You pluck a chicken. You tweeze an eyebrow," Gloss informed him.

There is more to the competitions than showing off skills, however. The contestants have written exams, oral presentations and other obstacles to clear as they vie for a national title.

"These students have been coming in before school and after school," working with teachers to hone their skills for SkillsUSA, said Roberta Johnston, the career center's vocational supervisor.

The center has produced national champions in each of the past two years, Johnston said. Last year, Caitlin Baughman won for her Job Skills demonstration on plant propagation, and Jessica Hawks won in 2005-06 for a Job Skills demonstration on designing a flower basket.

The Franklin County Builders Association, the association's Women's Council and the Pennsylvania Carpenters Union provided some of the funding for the students to make the trip, Johnston said.

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