Since opening in 2009, the Providence Career and Technical Academy (PCTA) has created and expanded a successful SkillsUSA chapter under the leadership of history teacher and SkillsUSA Advisor Michael Zanfagna. With tremendous support from faculty, administration and the community, SkillsUSA helps our students learn and apply critical skills in communication, teamwork, time management, citizenship, ethics and professionalism into their everyday lives. Our SkillsUSA student representatives have also traveled to Washington, DC to meet with Congressional leadership on the importance of CTE and Perkins funding for our technical programs.
A major component of SkillsUSA is state and national competition where students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations like automotive technology, carpentry, graphic communications, cosmetology, community service projects and culinary arts. Within the PCTA chapter, participants work hard to earn a spot on the state competition roster by competing in-house. Each unique in-house contest allows students to test their technical and academic knowledge against each other. The top three finalists represent PCTA in state competitions.
In 2009, PCTA was awarded with its first medal, a third-place finish in cosmetology. While the new chapter was extremely proud of this accomplishment, the programs teachers and advisors knew the future was bright and the students were eager to make PCTA the most competitive SkillsUSA chapter in the state.
Three years later, PCTA students brought home a total of 28 medals in the 2012-2013 competitions, eight of which were gold medal winners. At the national level, Southida Saykouman (Culinary Arts) placed second in Dining Room Service while other PCTA students also placed among the top 20 finishers in Action Skills and Cosmetology
According to Rahsaan Gomes-McCreary, cosmetology instructor, students bring transferable skills and proven qualifications to the competition each year. Many of my students work for the entire four years of high school just to place in the in-house competition. SkillsUSA is truly a partnership that develops and empowers leaders with twenty-first century skills in their technical areas.
To become a SkillsUSA winner is a life-changing event for any student, she added. Many companies will offer national winners instant interviews for open job positions.
More than 30 PCTA cosmetology students will participate in this years state competition to be held at their school on March 13, 2014. The students are hoping that their many hours of practice, strength and tenacity will lead them to the national competition and win the school their first national gold medal.