Downey High School Competes at the SkillsUSA State Competition


Jasmine Fernandez

In anticipation of the SkillsUSA State Conference taking place in Ontario, California from April 19 through April 22, Leslie Paniagua, 12, prepares to compete on the state level in Ms. Cordova’s photography section. “Basically, the photography is a bit more competitive just because they give you a theme and you have to go out and take it,” Paniagua said. “You have to Photoshop, and then you actually have an interview one-on-one with the judge.”

Oscar Flores, Copy Editor

From Thursday, Apr. 19 to Sunday, Apr. 22, high school students throughout California participated in the annual SkillsUSA State Competition held in the Ontario Convention Center.  Among the schools that participated in the competition is Downey High School, which sent out students from various vocations to compete in prompt-based events that demonstrate mastery in their field.


50+ competitions took place over the course of three days ranging from a variety of technical occupations (Television Production, Photography, Computer Programming, Engineering Technology/Design) to medical fields (Dental Assisting, Health Knowledge Bowl, Occupational Health and Safety).  Each category differs, with some contests testing the competitors’ dexterity and others testing their ability to work under time constraints.


The State competition adds more pressure than Regionals for students since only the groups that place first in the conference move on to Nationals.  For Charlize Duron, 11, the pressure brought upon by state does not phase her.


“I would say that they’re both difficult but the standards are a lot higher at the state competition,” Duron stated.  “At state, to make it to the next round, you have to receive first place in order to go to Nationals so that does put a level of pressure as opposed to the regional competition.”


Duron is one in a group of four sports medicine students that competed in the Health Knowledge Bowl at the State conference.  Their task involved their ability to answer questions on different categories spanning human anatomy to ethics and legality. To prepare for their task, Duron and her team reviewed a large amount of information in order to answer with accuracy and speed.


“So for my category [Health Knowledge Bowl], we have to answer questions that touch fields such as human anatomy, certain illnesses, medical legality, and code of conduct,” Duron said.  “We typically are competing against teams from our school and other schools as well. And well we all have similar roles on the team – to study and know the material well enough to answer all the questions.”


Transitioning to a technical field, another competition that happened during the weekend was for photography.  At the conference, photography students were given a central theme to serve as the focus for their photos. Afterwords, students had to photoshop, process, and submit two pictures (11×14 or 16×20) to be judged.


Coming from Mrs. Cordova’s advanced photography class, Leslie Paniagua, 12, felt confident in her ability to perform well at the competition due to her background.


“I started photography actually last year [2016-2017 school year] – I was in Photo 1 and ended up really enjoying it and loving it and kinda expressing myself through pictures and now I’m in advanced this year,” Paniagua stated.  “I’m more excited than nervous for sure; I’m looking forward to it especially because of the experience, and it’s really exciting.”


Paniagua earned gold at the conference and is set to compete at the National competition in Kentucky later this year.


The senior Quiz Bowl team was another group that competed in Ontario.  After last year’s Quiz Bowl team earned gold and competed at Nationals, this year’s team led by seniors Dylan Ly and Emiliano Salomon felt it was incumbent on them to achieve the same feat.  A member of the team, Hector Palma, 12, describes their approach to ensuring a first place win.


“We collectively came together to make this document [for review] and make sure we have all the current events down,” Palma said.  “I guess I am in charge of current events.”


Teams competing in Quiz Bowl were required to answer a total of 100 questions for both the preliminary round and final round.  In the end, Downey High School’s team won gold.


With the State competition now finished, Downey High school students prepare for Nationals set to take place in Kentucky from June 25 to June 29.  For more information on SkillsUSA visit their website or see Mrs. Vadgama in Z-3.