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Heritage High students Place in SkillsUSA Championships

posted Oct 3, 2016, 5:08 AM by Chris Whitehorne   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 5:08 AM ]
Two recent Heritage High School graduates have extended the school's track record for award-winning performances.

Heritage High School seniors Jeb Davis and Steve Millsaps placed 17th and 21st respectively in the SkillsUSA Championships. Davis competed in the automotive refinishing technology category, and Millsaps competed in collision repair technology category.

The SkillsUSA Championships is the showcase for the best career and technical students in the nation, involving students from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. In 2013, nearly 6,000 contestants participated in 98 events.

"It was the experience of a lifetime," Millsaps said. "While it was a lot more nerve-racking than the state competition, it was an incredible atmosphere."

Both students demonstrated the ability to perform jobs and skills based on a task list outlined by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). They also completed an interview, a written estimate and an ASE written exam. The overall appearance of the finished products, speed and proper safety practices were judged.

Davis, son of Heritage High welding teacher John P. Davis III and Rhonda Davis, competed at a series of workstations to assess skills in the following areas: surface preparation, spray gun operation, paint mixing, matching and applying, solving paint applications problems, determining finish defects, causes and cures and utilizing safety precautions. He won the Skills Point Certificate, which recognizes SkillsUSA members achieving national industry-defined scores at the competition.

The Skills Point Certificate is the pinnacle achievement in SkillsUSA's Work Force Ready System, which provides assessments for career and technical education that are supported by industry, education and policy leaders. To earn the certificate, students will participate in authentic assessments demonstrating in real time their knowledge and hands-on abilities.

Millsaps, son of Steve and Tonia Millsaps, competed at a series of workstations to assess skills in the following areas: metal straightening, welding, plastic repair and structural analysis.

Learned trade

Davis and Millsaps wanted to publicly thank teacher Randy Byrd, whose storied program has competed in the SkillsUSA Championships for eight out of the last 11 years. One of those years, however, a William Blount High School student competed in the SkillsUSA Championships.

"We were well-prepared after Mr. Byrd's class," Millsaps said. "He'd give us extra help after school. He got us into body shops. As a result, we were able to leave school knowing a trade that most people don't know until they're 25 years old to 30 years old. We're able to take a car from totaled to fully restored."

"If you come here and work hard, you'll be able to make it," Davis said. "I came in as sophomore in a high-level class. I was behind everybody. I made quite a bit of mistakes in my first year. I got better last year, and I got better this year. I've enjoyed every bit of it, especially the painting."

Davis, who is currently serving as a painter's helper at a local dealership, credits Byrd with helping him get an industry job. "He put me ahead. I was learning a skill and trade while in high school. It's given me the ability to get a good job that I can live on."

Millsaps, who is a part-time employee at AutoZone, plans to attend the Tennessee College of Applied Technology. "I want to learn the business side of this industry. I'd like working in the shop, but I don't know if I'd want to do it forever. I'd like to manage a shop or own my own shop."

Byrd wanted to publicly thank Davis and Millsaps for their dedication and hard work. "It's an honor to have students of this caliber, and I hate to lose them. They were leaders in the shop and leaders with other students. Whoever gets them will get two great employees."

Matthew Stewart - The Daily Times