Burroughs / Burbank Students to Participate in SkillsUSA California State Leadership Conference

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JBHS Carpentry competitors Harrison Johnstone and Rylan Boyle, Silver and Gold medalists for Region 3 (LA & Ventura Counties) will compete at the California State Leadership Conference, April 4-7, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of education and career development, students are constantly seeking opportunities that go beyond traditional academic learning. SkillsUSA, a national organization, stands out as a beacon for students looking to enhance their skills, build confidence, and prepare for successful careers. For many Burbank Unified School District students, participating in SkillsUSA SkillsUSA provides a diverse range of opportunities for exploration and discovery.

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower students to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens. Established in 1965, SkillsUSA has grown into one of the largest student organizations in the United States, with over 360,000 members across the country. The organization operates at the high school and college levels, with a few middle school level competitions, fostering a sense of community and collaboration among students pursuing various career paths. 

At the heart of SkillsUSA lies the Triangle Framework, a comprehensive approach to education that integrates personal, workplace, and technical skills. The three sides of the triangle represent the essential elements that SkillsUSA seeks to develop in its members. The base of the triangle represents technical skills—the specific skills and knowledge required for success in a chosen career. SkillsUSA provides a platform for students to hone these technical skills through hands-on experiences and competitive events. This emphasis on technical proficiency ensures that students are well-prepared for the challenges they will face in their respective fields.

The second side of the triangle focuses on personal skills, encompassing qualities such as responsibility, adaptability, and ethical decision-making. SkillsUSA recognizes that success in any career is not solely dependent on technical expertise but also on the development of personal attributes. By fostering personal skills, the organization equips students with the tools necessary for effective interpersonal relationships and overall personal growth.

The third side of the triangle addresses workplace skills—the abilities required to thrive in a professional environment. This includes communication, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving. Students engaged in SkillsUSA activities not only excel in their technical competencies but also emerge as well-rounded individuals prepared for the demands of the workplace.

The Triangle Framework serves as a guiding philosophy for SkillsUSA, ensuring a holistic approach to education that extends beyond the traditional classroom setting.

JBHS Culinary Students serving at the Burbank Arts and Education Foundation The State of the Schools 2023 Celebration Credit: Ross A. Benson

One of the primary benefits of SkillsUSA lies in its emphasis on hands-on learning. Traditional education often focuses on theoretical knowledge, but SkillsUSA recognizes the importance of practical skills in today’s workforce. The organization provides students with opportunities to participate in competitions that showcase their skills in areas such as carpentry, robotics, culinary arts, healthcare, photography and more.

These competitions not only allow students to apply what they have learned in the classroom but also serve as a platform for networking and exposure to industry professionals. Engaging in hands-on activities through SkillsUSA helps students bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application.

SkillsUSA plays a crucial role in helping students explore potential career paths. The organization collaborates with industry partners to offer students insights into various professions and industries. Through workshops, seminars, and industry visits, students get a firsthand look at the demands and expectations of different careers.

Beyond technical skills, SkillsUSA places a strong emphasis on leadership development. The organization believes that equipping students with leadership skills is essential for their success in any career. Through leadership conferences, workshops, and activities, SkillsUSA nurtures qualities such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Students involved in SkillsUSA often find themselves in leadership positions within their chapters, honing their abilities to guide and motivate their peers. These leadership experiences are transferable skills that can benefit students in both their academic pursuits and future careers.

Participating in SkillsUSA helps students build confidence in their abilities. Competing in events, presenting projects, and interacting with professionals contribute to the development of self-assurance. This newfound confidence extends beyond the competitions and into other aspects of students’ lives.

Moreover, SkillsUSA instills a sense of professionalism in its members. The organization emphasizes the importance of traits such as punctuality, effective communication, and a strong work ethic. These qualities are not only vital in competitive events but also highly sought after by employers in the professional world.

SkillsUSA provides a unique platform for students to network with industry leaders, educators, and other students who share similar interests. The organization hosts national and state-level conferences that bring together a diverse group of individuals connected by a passion for skills development.

Networking is a crucial aspect of career growth, and SkillsUSA facilitates connections that can open doors for students in their future endeavors. Whether it’s forming mentorships with industry professionals or connecting with peers who share similar career goals, the networking opportunities provided by SkillsUSA are invaluable.

SkillsUSA doesn’t just stop at skill development and leadership; it also rewards students for their achievements. Many organizations and industry partners collaborate with SkillsUSA to offer scholarships to deserving students. These scholarships serve as a financial aid resource for students pursuing further education in their chosen fields.

Additionally, SkillsUSA recognizes outstanding achievements through awards and honors. Students who excel in competitions or demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities are celebrated within the organization, boosting their confidence and providing a tangible acknowledgment of their hard work.

In addition to the Triangle Framework, SkillsUSA offers the Chapter of Excellence program (CEP), an initiative that recognizes and rewards outstanding chapters for their exemplary performance. This program sets a high standard for SkillsUSA chapters, encouraging them to excel in several key areas.

JBHS Students with Teacher/Advisor Kara Clark dropping donations at the Burbank Temporary Aid Center provided from the canned food drive Credit: Kara Clark

Chapters participating in the Chapter of Excellence program demonstrate a commitment to integrating the Triangle Framework into their activities. This involves not only emphasizing technical skills but also prioritizing the development of personal and workplace skills among their members. Each of the high schools in BUSD have their own chapters. As part of their CEP, the culinary arts students from JBHS planned, prepped, transported and served appetizers, including a molecular gastronomy experiment – spherification –  for the Burbank Arts and Education Foundation The State of Schools 2023 Celebration. Students at JBHS also held a canned food drive for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center that ended just before winter break, a particular time of need for some of Burbank’s most challenged community members. 

SkillsUSA is committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse environment. The organization welcomes students from all backgrounds and encourages them to explore careers traditionally underrepresented by their demographic. This commitment to inclusivity aligns with the evolving landscape of the workforce, where diversity is increasingly recognized as a driving force for innovation and success.

Funding for this program is essential. Each chapter is required to pay a membership fee for the year for students and advisors. Many BUSD students regularly promote from the regional competitions to participate in the State Leadership Conference, where each competition has an entry fee as well as additional expenses. BUSD has even had several students win a state competition, going on to represent the entire State of California at the National Leadership Conference, requiring funding for travel to an out-of-state location. There is also the expense of equipment and supplies. The JBHS culinary program regularly seeks contributions from The Handy Market, who generously donates chickens for the students to practice fabricating. It should also be mentioned that participating in this Student Lead Organization fulfills one of the requirements for the Carl D. Perkins Grant, a major source of funding for all BUSD career technical education programs. 

Sharyn Gersch, a BUSD parent, was asked to share her point of view:

“My son Owen Gersh (JBHS ’23) participated in SkillsUSA culinary regional and state competition.  In hindsight it was the greatest skill learning opportunity he ever had in BUSD.  I personally attended the SkillsUSA California State Competition in April of 2023.  I still get goosebumps thinking about being in the convention hall (Ontario, CA) with thousands of students for the final award ceremony.  I had no idea that SkillsUSA had 125 different trade skill competition categories. Owen’s experience competing in culinary included him having to fabricate a chicken, prepare an ‘airline breast’, and make 3 side dishes including a vegetable, potato and salad.  The culinary students worked in an industrial kitchen where they were expected to speak and move about according to industry standards as though they were professional chefs.  Owen was beyond nervous, but he was absolutely prepared because of the teaching and support he got from JBHS …Owen is forever changed by his SkillsUSA experience.  He has worked in three different restaurants since competing, each new job opportunity building from what was started by SkillsUSA.  As a parent and member of the Burbank community for 20+ years I’d like to see the district get more involved with SkillsUSA and see more students participate…”

This year, Mrs. Gersch got her wish; there will be more participants from more programs at Burbank High School than in the past. Eight students from Burbank High along with 4 students from JBHS will be competing in the SkillsUSA California State Leadership Conference in Ontario, April 4-7.

For students seeking a pathway to success in their chosen careers, SkillsUSA offers a comprehensive platform that equips them with the skills, confidence, and connections necessary to thrive. As the professional landscape continues to evolve, organizations like SkillsUSA play a vital role in preparing the next generation of leaders and workers for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

In conclusion, SkillsUSA stands as a dynamic force in shaping the future of students by combining practical skills development, career exploration, leadership training, and networking opportunities. The benefits of SkillsUSA extend far beyond the classroom, providing students with a holistic approach to education and personal growth.

Upcoming fundraiser needs your support

John Burroughs High School SkillsUSA Chapter will be offering prom attire at their fundraising event “Dress Up to Donate”. As part of their community service project for SkillsUSA, the purpose of the event is to bring awareness of the large gap that exists when affording prom attire as well as encouraging respect for cultural differences and promote equity for all while providing a safe space for students to pick out prom attire for free. Open to all BUSD high school students, the event will be held March 30th, 2024, from 10am – 2pm at JBHS in room 2114, accessible through Parish Gate #2 (between building 2 and the Brian Hearst Gym). 

To donate, please bring any gently worn gowns, tuxedos, suits, pants, jackets, belts or dress shoes to our community drop off event on Monday, March 25th in front of JBHS from 3:00pm-4:30pm