Falls student earns national recognition at SkillsUSA

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Kennedy places 8th in carpentry

Sarah Waara Times Herald Correspondent

Contributed Photo

Oconto Falls High School graduate Jared Kennedy works on a project at the national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Kentucky. Kennedy was the only Oconto Falls student to compete, and he placed eighth out of 48 in the carpentry contest. Kennedy became interested in carpentry when he was 7 years old and hopes to one day have his own construction company.

For Oconto Falls High School graduate Jared Kennedy, carpentry is second nature. Kennedy placed eighth out of 48 competitors and earned a Skill Point Certificate in carpentry at the 52nd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills conference held June 22-23 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Skill Point Certificates were awarded in 86 occupational and leadership areas to students who met a predetermined threshold score in the competition.

Kennedy’s interest in carpentry began when he was 7 years old and helped remodel his family’s house. Time has flown since then, and Kennedy this spring found himself preparing for the national SkillsUSA competition. He placed first at the state competition on April 27 to earn the right to advance to the national contest.

“I prepared for this event by helping out my local summer construction class, teaching them how to do siding and remodel buildings,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy had been in the construction class for three summers and two school years. He was foreman for the construction class this year. Kennedy gained building experience while in the class by helping build a duplex for NEWCAP, a private, nonprofit agency that assists low-income residents.

The carpentry portion of the SkillsUSA competition consisted of building a 4-by-8-foot building that was 4 feet tall. Kennedy also had to frame an octagon window with steel studs and cut hip rafters.

Kennedy described the entire experience as fun, challenging and rewarding.

“The competition was very challenging. It tested my knowledge of how to get everything done in an efficient time and done correctly,” he said.

Going into a national competition, Kennedy said he felt nervous and wondered if he would finish his projects in the allotted eight hours. Things went smoothly “once I got going and got into the mindset,” he said.

He completed his projects on time.

“I didn’t struggle,” he said. “I started with what I knew and then went on to the harder stuff.”

The SkillsUSA Championship is the largest skill competition in the world; over 6,000 students participate. The contests aim to help prepare students in the trades and challenge them with tasks that are taken directly from industry practices.

The SkillsUSA Championships event is held annually for students in middle school, high school and college/postsecondary programs as part of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. More than 300,000 students and advisers participate in SkillsUSA annually.

Kennedy hopes to one day have his own construction company. Oconto Falls tech ed teacher David Heisel said that would be a natural goal for Kennedy.

“Over the past four years, I have watched Jared progress through his construction knowledge from very basic to rather advanced for his age, and I’m excited for what the future holds for him,” Heisel said. “Jared is the student that technology teachers hold in their mind for years to come and become part of future examples and curriculum that we tell to the classes for decades to come.”