This story was updated July 5, 2018, at 2:19 p.m. with more information.
Thirteen local students were awarded some of the nation's highest awards in career and technical education at the 2018 SkillsUSA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky last week.
Damaris Betancourt Ron, from Chattanooga and a student at Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga, was awarded a bronze medal in the college-level Employment Application Process.
Elizabeth Crawford, from Chattanooga, and Cara Winget, students at Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga, were awarded bronze medals in the college-level Job Skill Demonstration Open.
Brittany Smith, from Whitwell and also a student at Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga, was awarded a bronze medal in the college-level Job Interview.
Charlotte Adams, Chantal Simmons, William Weeks, Brittany Durham and Christa Spain, from Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga, were awarded the silver medal in the college-level Quiz Bowl competition.
Rebekah Farrow, Courtney McKinney and Michael Rogers, from Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga, were awarded silver medals in the college-level Career Pathways Showcase.
Isaiah Dagnan, also a student from Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga, was awarded the silver medal in the college-level Technical Computer Applications competition.
More than 6,300 students competed in the national showcase, which is one of the largest national skill competitions and includes a variety of competitions for trade and technical skills ranging from robotics, automotive technology, criminal justice, aviation maintenance and public speaking.
Most students were invited to the event after succeeding at state- level competitions.
Nearly 1,500 high school and college students competed in SkillsUSA Tennessee's State Leadership and Skills conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center in March.
The career and technical student organization, which has dozens of chapters across the nation, aims to connect technical students to industry leaders.
SkillsUSA recruits students enrolled in either their high school's career and technical courses or in trade and technical classes at the state's 27 community colleges and 13 Tennessee College of Applied Technology campuses.
At last week's national competition in Louisville, more than 1,000 medals were presented to students along with industry prizes and scholarships from the 600 businesses, corporations and organizations represented at the competition, according to a news release.
"More than 6,300 students from every state in the nation participated in the 2018 SkillsUSA Championships," SkillsUSA executive director Tim Lawrence said in a statement. "This showcase of career and technical education demonstrates our SkillsUSA partnership at its finest. Our students, instructors and industry partners work together to ensure that every student excels. This program expands learning and career opportunities for our members."
Tennessee has seen a strong push for career and technical education, also known as vocational education, in recent years. One of Gov. Bill Haslam's biggest education initiatives, launched in 2015, has been the "Drive to 55" initiative, which aims to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-high school educations to 55 percent by 2025 through a number of efforts, including last year's Tennessee Reconnect bill, which gives many Tennessee adults the chance to attend community colleges tuition free.
SkillsUSA chapters on school campuses recruit the highest-performing technical students and give them opportunities to showcase their skills, network with business leaders and even develop soft skills outside what they are learning in class.
The SkillsUSA Championships event is held annually for students in middle school, high school or post-secondary programs as part of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that eight local students won awards at last week's SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Kentucky. Thirteen students won various awards at the competition. This additional information was not included in a previous news release.