National Skills


Jimonte' Weber

Senior Ariel Preston and her CSI group plan out how they are going to set up their investigation scene during a Skills USA practice.”

Jimonte' Weber, Staff Writer

Skills USA is a national organization that helps students prepare of life outside of school by building personal and workplace skills. The school’s chapter is led by Criminal Justice teacher Rebecca Schultz, and students train year-round before ultimately competing in February at the Harris County sheriff’s office for the district competition.

“Skills USA provides a knowledge of public speaking, a way of meeting new friends, and a great deal of law enforcement related activities,” law enforcement teacher Clifton Robinson said. “It allows the students to be able to engage in law enforcement related ideas and activities.”

Students prepare for competition by practicing every week after school on Tuesdays. Each member is appointed an officer to train them and help them with any event they may struggle with, such as forensic crime scene investigations, making arrests, or even just performing a routine traffic stop.

“I like being a part of a group and being able to train with my peers,” sophomore Lauren Turner said. “[The competition] will let us practice and train for future encounters in law enforcement.”

Along with the law enforcement portion of Skills USA, it also has leadership competitions for students that do not want to pursue a law enforcement career but still want to participate in Skills USA.

“Skills USA prepares students not only for their careers in law enforcement, but for their careers in any avenue,” Schultz said. “[The students] can compete in skills competitions that are law enforcement based, but then they can also compete in leadership competitions that go over a spectrum of careers.”

After preparing, the students show what they have learned in various competitions. According to Robinson, multiple schools compete against each other in competition, and each school is graded by law enforcement officials or a special authority figure for leadership.

“Students are rewarded with a letter jacket for making it to state,” Robinson said. “They also receive plaques and trophies for their accomplishments.”

First and second place winners in regionals get to advance to state, while third place gets a medal. However, only first place winners at state get to advance to nationals. Along with being able to advance in skill and the rewards included, Skills USA has many scholarship offers as well.

“If the crime scene investigation team were to win at the state level and advance to nationals, each member of the team would get to split a scholarship of up to $10,000,” Schultz said. “And that’s just one of many scholarships Skills USA has to offer.”

According to Robinson, there have not been any competitions yet, but Skills USA members are practicing and preparing for contests to come, and students interested in these competitions are still able to join right now.

“[Skills USA] is a great opportunity to receive a letter jacket,” Robinson said. “It’s also a way to make new friends and learn skills that you can use for life.”