Shoemaker students shine

Shoemaker High School Skills USA team members won their skills competition at the state level and placed sixth at their national conference. The winning team, from left, is Kyana Lemons, Yarixza Rivera, Christian Madsen, Semaj Handy and Cassandra Barcelon. Not pictured are team members Winnie Dunkundane and Ka'shae Wilborne.

Proving dedication above and beyond expectation, seven Shoemaker High School students worked after school and into the summer to pull off a state championship and sixth place in the nation.

The group, part of Shoemaker’s Skills USA chapter, placed sixth in the nation in performing the group’s opening and closing ceremony at national competition in Kansas City.

The competition required teamwork and oral presentation skills, with students working for hours to synchronize elements of the scripted ceremony.

Shoemaker teacher Brenda Drawdy, the Skills USA adviser, said her students eclipsed anything she’s seen in terms of student dedication and commitment.

The seven girls worked closely together, forming a strong bond that carried them to a victory at the district level, first place at the state level and sixth place among teams from all 50 states and three territories.

The opening and closing ceremony presentation described the Skills USA emblem, encompassing patriotism, industry, technology, knowledge and individualism.

One of the students, junior Kyana Lemons, said the event required strong presentation and oral skills and a high level of enthusiasm.

“They wanted to hear a story, not just a presentation,” she said.

Their confidence grew as they worked and competed together.

Semaj Handy, now a senior, said “we didn’t think we would win at the state level, even when they were announcing the winners, but the hard work paid off.”

Only state winners of each competition category moved on to the national event June 23-27 in Kansas City, where 5,600 students converged in the National Leadership and Skills Conference.

“We worked well together. We respected each other,” said Handy. “When there were issues we talked about it. We were like family making sure everyone was OK.”

“For seven girls, we were calm,” said Lemons. “We were determined for everyone to do well.”

Skills USA provides a broad range of leadership and career skills to students. Locally, the Shoemaker group hosts fundraisers and conducts planning meetings and social gatherings.

“I think Skills USA is big because it teaches about leadership, but it focuses on each student finding their own path,” said Cassandra Barcelon, a Shoemaker graduate now at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.

The winning team included Barcelon, Lemons, Handy, Christian Madsen, Winnie Dunkundane, Yarixza Rivera and Ka’shae Wilborne.

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