Skills USA held second annual chili fundraiser on Friday

(L-R) Damien Sikes, member; Jesse Hutchings, member; Mike Goodwin, Director of KTC; Logan Sweeney, member; Michael Glenn, president of the morning Skills USA chapter. Not pictured: Tommy Balentine, president of the afternoon Skills USA chapter. Staff photo.

By Joey McWilliams

DURANT – The weather cooperated with the Skills USA program on Friday, allowing it serve chili on a chilly day.

News presented by First United Bank.

The Kiamichi Technology Center’s chapter of the career and technology student organization hosted a chili dinner at the Clay Jones Community Center at the Bryan County Fairgrounds.

The members served chili, beans, cheese and more to those who came out to support their efforts.

Skills USA is one of four student organizations, along with BPA, HOSA and FCCLA, on the KTC campus and gets its membership from students who are enrolled in the welding program, the automotive program and the computer networking program.

Jennifer Davis, Student Services Coordinator, said Skills USA is an organization that helps students go beyond basic subject matter.

“They’re coming to school every morning and they’re learning that skill (welding, automotive, computer networking),” Davis said. “And Skills USA a membership organization where kids learn, not just the trade that they’re enrolled in, but it is also teaching them how to take that skill and build a career out of it.”

The money raised on Friday will go toward competitions in which the Skills USA members will get to compete. The next regional competitions within Oklahoma will be in February 2018 with members from KTC heading to Spiro and Wayne.

Those who place first or second in a category will get to move on to the state competition in Tulsa in April.

“It doesn’t take very much money to get to that (regional) competition, but usually our kids are going to win first or second, we hope, and that puts them in a bus headed for Tulsa,” Davis said.

“It takes funds to get to that competition, because we usually have a large bus load that is going to state. If they were to win first or second in state competition, then they are going on this summer in June to the national competition and that could be held in Florida or Missouri or New York, it’s never in the state of Oklahoma. The money they raise at the chili dinner and the other fundraisers they’ve done helps them to get to that point.”

Campus Director Mike Goodwin said the students and Skills USA members from the three programs of welding, auto service and computer networking and repair each have the responsibility to earn those funds.

“All of our student organizations on campus are tasked each year to raise their own monies, anything from competitions to field trips and things of that nature,” Goodwin said. “This is the second annual Skills USA chili fundraiser. Last year was the first time they had done it and it was very successful. The students in that organization raised right at $2,000.

“One thing about it, it’s an opportunity for all those students in all three different programs to come together and work together in a fundraiser and display teamwork, which is something we like to see at Kiamichi.”

Every student in each of those classes at KTC is a member of Skills USA and KTC pays for the membership. There are approximately 65-80 students currently as member, according to Davis.

Friday’s fundraiser is not the only one the students have done and there are more ahead.

“I was told earlier today they had such enjoyment making chili yesterday that they are going to be selling Frito chili pie at the technology center in the lobby through December and January and February,” Davis said. “I’ve also heard that they might be doing an antique car show in the spring.”

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