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Union Grove High School Students Shine at 2024 SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Union Grove High School (UGHS) students delivered exceptional performances, placing in the top three in several categories at the recent 2024 SkillsUSA Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference.

During the three-day event at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the students secured gold, silver, and bronze medals, along with coveted prizes that included trade tools and scholarships.

More than 3,300 students competed in 156 different trade, technical, and leadership fields, further underscoring these students’ remarkable accomplishments. Students from UGHS and the Academy for Advanced Studies represented Henry County Schools (HCS), with HCS students placing in 10 competitions.

UGHS Junior Jordi Silva competed in Construction Math and Architectural Drafting, placing first in both competitions. He also placed first in Mathematical Concepts last year.

“I have been part of SkillsUSA for three years, but this was my first time competing in the Architectural Drafting competition,” Silva said. “When I heard my name called as one of the finalists and later as the gold medalist for the Architectural Drafting competition, I was so proud of myself. I knew my hard work and efforts had paid off through this competition. Stepping onto the stage, I was honored to represent Union Grove High School.”

Silva’s first-place win in Architectural Drafting qualifies him to advance to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta this June.

This is the fourth year since 2016 that UGHS has placed first in Architectural Drafting to compete at the national level. UGHS Architectural Drafting competitors went on to place third in the national competition in 2017 and first in 2021.

“Since I was a little kid, I have always loved playing with building blocks and drawing,” Silva added. “I dreamed of becoming an architect and sharing my designs with others. Thanks to the great architecture program at Union Grove and SkillsUSA, the idea of being an architect has become more realistic and attainable.”

Eva Dorminy, a member of Union Grove’s Quiz Bowl team, placed first in the Basic Healthcare Skills competition. The 12th-grader also placed first in Basic Healthcare Skills and Medical Terminology in 2022 at the state level, qualifying to compete nationally in both categories that year.

Eleventh-grader Roy Diddy secured first place in the Architectural Drawing Test and second in Construction Blueprint Reading.

Eleventh-grader Noah Seelhammer earned second-place awards for the Technical Drafting performance and written tests, while 10th-grader Shyam Patel placed second in Mathematical Concepts.

Eleventh-grade student Hayley Patel placed third in Medical Math, demonstrating advanced knowledge of general math concepts employed in health care.

Union Grove’s achievements went beyond individual accolades. The five-member team of Ved Patel, Harshika Garlapati, Rose Pollard, William Conner, and Dorminy will also advance to the national competition in June after winning the Quiz Bowl competition.

The Quiz Bowl team, comprised entirely of seniors, showcased their knowledge of technical careers and demonstrated teamwork and effective problem-solving and time management skills. The team passed written tests and responded to timed questions that included academic and contemporary topics related to the technical field.

These same Quiz Bowl team members placed second in 2022 and third in 2023 at the state level.

“I am so proud of our Skills USA students for their success in the state competition,” said Principal Dr. Ryan Meeks. “Their hard work and determination were evident in their performance, and they were outstanding representatives of Union Grove High School and Henry County Schools.”

Among their standout achievements, the UGHS contingent demonstrated exceptional proficiency in timed events such as precision machining and computer-aided drafting, affirming their technical prowess and dedication to excellence.

The SkillsUSA program has existed at UGHS since the school opened in the fall of 2001, and students have been competing annually since the spring of 2002. Architectural Drawing and Design Instructor Amanda McClure has been the school’s SkillsUSA advisor since the fall of 2013.

“SkillsUSA teaches students the personal, workplace, and technical skills needed to be successful in college and their future careers,” said McClure. “Our students are more prepared for their future because of the opportunities offered through SkillsUSA.”

McClure’s involvement with SkillsUSA at UGHS dates back to 2004 when she was a student and SkillsUSA competitor and officer. She continued her involvement with the organization through college.

Under her guidance, UGHS teams and individual competitors have amassed numerous top-three awards at the state and national levels.

“While I love when my students are successful in the competitions, it is even more meaningful to hear from graduates about the impact SkillsUSA had on their life during high school and how it has shaped who they have become,” McClure added.

The competitions allow students to display their talents and gain real-world experience. From speaking engagements to conducting meetings, the participants exhibited diverse skills, demonstrating their readiness to excel in the professional arena.

“These students have made us all proud,” said HCS Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Knowlton. “Their extraordinary dedication, hard work, and passion propelled them to this level. Union Grove’s commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and skill development among its students is a perfect example of our district’s goal to provide every student with opportunities, access, and outcomes that will lead to success in a global society.”

The SkillsUSA Championships provide a platform for the most skilled technical education school students to showcase their expertise in the skilled trades. As the first-place winners from UGHS gear up to compete against the nation's finest at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference this June, they will join more than 6,000 state champions from across the country, competing in 115 different competitions.

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.