Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Students Win at New York State SkillsUSA Conference

Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Students Win at New York State SkillsUSA Conference

Third Place in Welding Fabrication
Front left to right – Austin Tallman (Sherman) and Matt Childs (Fredonia)
Back – Carl Laurie (Westfield Academy)

Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES (E2CCB) students recently traveled to the New York State Fairgrounds to take part in the New York State SkillsUSA Conference. Career & Technical Education students from the Hewes Educational Center in Ashville and the LoGuidice Educational Center in Fredonia were among those represented.

Combining their classroom knowledge and hands-on experience, the students competed against other schools in exercises judged by industry professionals. Some participated in individual activities while others completed exercises as teams.

It’s eye-opening to them,” according to Nicole Terry, an academic liaison and one of the SkillsUSA advisors at the Hewes Educational Center. “They’ve been practicing some of these skills for one to two years. Just seeing how they compete against other students who are in the same field and learning what the industry is particularly looking for… I think that’s what they take away most from it.”

In the end, 13 E2CCB students placed in the competition. Locally, Kaitlyn Mancari (Westfield Academy), Maggie Jones (Fredonia) and Sarah Okerlund (Westfield Academy) took second place in Chapter Display, which involves creating an exhibit that informs people about the SkillsUSA program. Matthew Childs (Fredonia), Carl Laurie (Westfield Academy) and Austin Tallman (Sherman) placed third in the Welding Fabrication competition.

For juniors, the event is a new experience that will prepare them for next year’s competition. “There are so many different benefits, including the life lessons, the skills and the relationships that they build with kids who are on the same trip,” says Terry. “A lot of them leave with a sense of pride even if they don’t place. I’ve never had a kid regret the experience.”

For seniors, it is an exciting way to finish the time in their Career & Technical Education classes. “It’s kind of a nice feeling inside to see kids grow so much from the first time on the podium to the last time on the podium,” says Kevin Valentine, a SkillsUSA advisor and welding instructor at the LoGuidice Educational Center. “Even if you never gain a medal, you learn, you grow, you help control pressure. That’s the maturity of it.”

SkillsUSA is a national organization that prepares students for the workforce. Members have opportunities to earn scholarships, network, participate in community service projects and grow as leaders.

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About Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES

The Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus (E2CC) BOCES is one of 37 BOCES in New York State. The E2CC BOCES represents all the school districts in Chautauqua County, southern Erie County, and part of Cattaraugus County, a geographical area of 1,791 square miles. Services are offered in the following areas: Adult Education & Workforce Development, Special Education, Alternative Education, Career & Technical Education, Staff & Curriculum Development, Instructional Support Services, Technology Services, Management Services, and others. For more information, visit

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