Students at Southwest High School have competed in the SkillsUSA broadcast competition since 1999. This year a team composed of three juniors and one senior not only advanced to the national level but placed first.
SkillsUSA is a national membership organization serving middle school, high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.
A team from Southwest High School has placed first at the state level for six consecutive years. This year is the first time in school and district history that a team has won first place at the national level.
As a part of the Southwest High School Gold Seal Program of Choice, students become part of the Advanced Media Program (AMP) their sophomore year and compete for SkillsUSA.
This year’s team consisted of Jacob Wells, Gloria Ortiz and Laura Nunez who are returning this year as seniors and Vanessa Johnson who has graduated.
As part of the AMP, students practice for competition daily from recording the morning announcements to producing live shows for the district’s EdTV channel.
The team said being a part of the AMP plays a major role in their success as national champions.
“It gives us the on-hand field experience that would be required in a newscast and it gave us the experience to work in front of a camera and behind the camera,” Wells said.
The on-hand field experience is not the only thing live shows offer students.
Nunez said producing live shows gets the team used to working in a stressful atmosphere, as well as allowing the team to become comfortable with each other.
At the district’s Professional Development Center, these students are given the opportunity to work with equipment that other students competing in SkillsUSA may not have access to prior to competition.
“We get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Nunez said. “That makes us a lot stronger when we’re competing because those other teams don’t have the same atmosphere that we’re given.”
With one new addition to their broadcast team, they are now preparing for their first round of competition in February.