AT students earn awards at SkillsUSA Workforce Championships

Students from Chicago’s northern suburbs to deep Southern Illinois arrived in Peoria April 25 for the SkillsUSA Illinois 2024 Championships determined to prove they could be the best at about 150 competitions showcasing their hard work in workforce career development over the past school year.

Some left the event April 27 with awards for their winning work, but all put themselves in position to be winners in their career field.

The championships were sponsored this year by Caterpillar Inc. and the City of Peoria as thousands filled the Peoria Civic Center for a three-day celebration of students’ and schools’ commitment to career and technical education (CTE).

The annual event, held in some form for 60 years now through SkillsUSA, is made possible by hundreds of industry partners, trade associations and labor organizations who volunteer countless hours to judge the competitions as students race against the clock and each other to prove their expertise in manufacturing, electronics, computer-aided drafting, culinary arts, construction, hospitality, human services and much more.

Winners of the statewide championships will now go on to compete in the national SkillsUSA Championships next month in Atlanta.

SkillsUSA programming is supported by a state grant under the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship program. Gov. JB Pritzker has proposed a $10 million increase in CTE funding for next year, and Skills will be advocating for that and other CTE expansion opportunities in the final weeks of the Legislature’s spring session.

Addison Trail, Willowbrook and York high schools participated in the SkillsUSA Workforce Championships. The Addison Trail students placed in specific categories: Jair Luna-Banda, third place, Electrical Construction Wiring; Sage Kopecky, third place, Full Service Auto-Action Skills; William Catlow, seventh place, Automotive Service Technology; Jake Santini, seventh place, Technical Drafting; and Bryan Villa, 10th place, Automotive Service Technology.