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Tanner Parsley, of McMinnville, takes a programing test on a Phillips Corporation CNC simulations machine during SkillsUSA competition at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Parsley attends the Tennessee College of Applied Tech.
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Tim Masters, a senior at Middleton High School, fixes his team's robot during a testing period during the second day of the SkillsUSA student competition held at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

Fourteen local students received some of the nation's highest awards in career and technical education at the 2019 SkillsUSA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, last month.

In total, 42 students from Tennessee's 12 technical and community colleges won more than 42 medals at the national competition.

Career and technical education students in high schools also participate in the competitions, alongside students attending post-secondary institutions. This year, 22 Tennessee high school students won medals at the national championships, according to a news release.

Carly Steinbacher of Tennessee College of Applied Tech-Chattanooga was awarded a gold medal in the medical terminology category, one of only three Tennessee students to win gold.

Ten Tennessee students received silver medals in a variety of categories, including local students Racquel Harrison of TCAT in the employment application process category and Laquinta Gallishaw-Gonzalez of TCAT in the nurse assisting category.

Tennessee College students won 29 bronze medals in the national championships and 38 students scored at the 90th percentile or above on their exams and were 'Top Ten" certificate winners.

Local bronze medal winners included:

» Kimberly Driscoll, Diamone Fitten and Cherylmaine Stanley of TCAT in the arts and communication category

» Andrew James Catalano, Brandon Tallent and Samuel Swenson of TCAT in the business, management and technology category

» Tracy Whited, Abigail Pollock and Cheyenne Hixson of TCAT in the health services category

» Amy Griffith of TCAT in the job interview skills category

» Kyle Willard of TCAT in the power equipment technology category

» Lydia Reed of TCAT in the prepared speech category

» Hope Laferry, Madelyn Lewis and Marissa Roberson of TCAT in the promotional bulletin board category

More than 6,000 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.

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Clarksville High senior Cheria Turner begins a one hour written leadership test during Skills USA at the Chattanooga Trade Center.

Nearly 1,500 high school and college students compete annually in SkillsUSA Tennessee's State Leadership and Skills conference. 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.

"Our students are among the best trained and prepared students in the nation, as underscored again in this year's results at the national SkillsUSA championships," said Joy Rich, director of experiential learning at The College System of Tennessee and Postsecondary SkillsUSA state director, in a statement.

"Tennessee has the largest SkillsUSA post-secondary membership of any state. That, combined with our showing in the national championships, emphasizes the quality of the career and technical education being delivered at our colleges. And that quality instruction benefits the students and their families — and Tennessee's economy," Rich added.

Each of the 103 competitions at the SkillsUSA Championships falls under one of 11 categories: arts and communications; construction; health sciences; hospitality and tourism; human services; information technology; leadership; manufacturing; public safety; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); and transportation.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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