Durango High School’s Skills USA: One of the Nation’s Top 8 Programs


Osias Madrid

Although schools help students academically prepare for life, there are some things they just can’t teach. The SkillsUSA Program aims to teach students the things school doesn’t, and prepare them in more fields and professions.

SkillsUSA is a nationwide program that aims at ensuring that the country has a strong workforce. 18,000 local chapters and 53 state and territorial associations, all teaching and competing with a variety of skills that will prepare students for the real world and the future.

The SkillsUSA Framework uses three elements to make up the Framework Models of Excellence, including Personal Skills, Technical Skills, and Workplace Skills. Each category includes a set of subcategories of their own. Students compete using these three elements, and the skills that come with them, attempting at being one of the best in the country. Here at Durango High School, the team has accomplished that.

The DHS SkillsUSA chapter has achieved a Gold Level Status, the highest level a chapter can achieve. Simply stated, this means that they are one of the top eight chosen chapters across the nation in the category of Personal Skills, involving integrity, responsibility, work ethic, and much more.

The team has received a grant of $2000.00 to compete in the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky June 25-29 to compete against the other chapters in the nation. They will also be honored at a recognition dinner, and be recognized in front of the entire U.S. SkillsUSA delegation. Shaun Smith, coach and mentor of SkillsUSA and teacher at Durango High School, is very proud of his team.
“It feels really good to see success and recognition coming their way. It’s a great thing to see them moving forward, and to see them so excited about something,” said Smith.

The students are just as excited to have reached this status, and are looking forward to the future.

“It’s truly an opportunity to be blessed with. The next step now is to just keep doing what we’re doing, but to keep preparing for the future,” said senior Chief-Manuelito Garbiso, also known as Big Chief.

It’s not only the team that is reaching new heights, though. Smith has also been chosen as the Region 5 Advisor of the Year, making him the top coach in 16 states on the whole western side of the country. He will be going to competing against the other region advisors to be the top advisor in the country.

“It’s an incredibly good feeling, to be recognized by my efforts. It let’s me know someone’s watching, and that someone cares,” said Smith.

The SkillsUSA program is huge for the students who are a part of it, and they feel it really benefits them both inside and out of school.

“My grades have gotten a lot better since I’ve joined, and it’s made me care more and be more responsible,” said President Brian Elvridge, a junior at DHS.

“It really helps you to see job and trade skills that you don’t normally get to see in schools. The program prepares you to be successful out of school, in real life,” said Big Chief.

The SkillsUSA team is on a path of success that they don’t want to hop off of, and hope to continue being successful in the years to come.