ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala.-When the depot Career Academy students do something, they do it right. And competing in the state SkillsUSA competition is no different.

The students brought home several medals from the event, which was held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center from April 28-30, and the achievements have placed permanent smiles on the faces of many.

"Not only were the students excited, but the instructors were also," said one of the beaming club advisors, Susan Hill. "It was our first year to win medals in each of the categories that we entered," she added.

SkillsUSA provides quality educational experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development by building and reinforcing self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. Its programs also help to promote community service and establish industry standards for job skill training in labs and classrooms.

High school students

The depot's Career Academy is a combined effort between the Alabama Department of Education and Anniston Army Depot that began in 2001 to provide local high school students on-the-job training in trades they'll be performing in the depot's college-level co-op program.

Josh Lambert, a senior at Cherokee County High School, was awarded the gold medal in the Diesel Technology field, with Jonathan Kellett, from Hokes Bluff High School, taking the silver.

In the Precision Machining field, Trent Gray came home with a silver medal.

Earning a bronze medal in the Electronic Technology field was Jesslyn Johnson, Clay County High School.

In the Technical Math field, Tarin Baxter, Munford High School, was awarded the silver medal.

Josh Kirkpatrick, Piedmont High School, was a silver medal recipient in the Extemporaneous Speaking field, and Marshay McCluney, Lincoln High School, won the bronze.

"We had a total of 15 kids competing," said academy instructor Hugh Buchanan. "This is stiff competition and to simply be nominated is an honor. We are extremely proud of each of them."

According to Hill, the academy has had 100 percent participation from the students and instructors since they began competing seven years ago.

Technical school students

Many students in the depot's technical college cooperative program are graduates of the Career Academy. They're on a career progression route to become full-time government employees in the depot's Nichols Industrial Complex.

At the post-secondary level, Cody Simmons and Tyler Garrett, both Gadsden State Community College students, earned medals. Simmons was a silver medal recipient in Precision Machining and Garrett was the gold medal winner in Diesel Technology.

SkillsUSA is a United States career and technical student organization serving more than 300,000 high school and college students and professional members enrolled in training programs in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health occupation.

National competition next month

The national competition will be held in Missouri in June, with thousands of students competing for top honors in their related field and talent.

"We've come home winners before from the nationals," said Hill. "We're aiming for the stars again this year."