Communication Updates

A Letter From Your State Advisor - March 2021

As everyone knows, this year has been extremely challenging for teachers and students with Covid-19
severely impacting all aspects of the educational system, including how to implement the SkillsUSA
program and preparing for this year’s competitions and contests into your classrooms. This process is
further complicated by some schools relying totally on online learning with other schools having in-
person learning continually disrupted with mandated closures. I have talked to numerous advisors and
judges that have expressed concerns that if Alaska has a virtual state conference, how could we make it
a fair event given that schools, or individual students, don’t all have the same equipment and supplies
which creates an unequal playing field for the student competitors. Also, many advisors have had
limited, if any, hands-on instructional time with their students, which again creates an inherently unfair
situation for competitors. Although the SkillsUSA Nationals organization is proposing virtual solutions
that will benefit some states in holding their conferences, their emphasis is on conducting a severely
limited National Conference for 2021.


Currently, within Alaska, we have numerous constraints on holding a state conference. We have been
unable to secure a hotel or other venue to host the competitions, many districts have prohibited all out
of district travel and activities, UAA cannot offer support for our competitions, and the military and
industrial partners we rely on for judges and support are not able to offer any assistance for our
conference this year. Unfortunately, these situations create an environment that, coupled with the
limited classroom instructional opportunities, make it impossible to move forward and a decision has
been made that Alaska State SkillsUSA will not have a 2021 state conference.


There are still numerous opportunities for students to receive scholarships and benefits through their
National SkillsUSA membership. Also, Advisors with your membership you will still receive updated
materials for your classroom in the way of technical standards and other teaching ideas. However, it is
essential that you maintain your membership status. You can access more information on the national
web-site SkillsUSA.org


During the past year, there have been several changes to directors, teachers and advisors through
retirement or movement within the school or district. If you can help me with an updated contact list of
anyone that I should include on our contact list, I would appreciate it.


I would like to thank this year’s SkillsUSA officers for the outstanding work they have accomplished
during their tenure as Alaska SkillsUSA leaders and wish them well in the years to come as they graduate
and move on to their next challenges:


Kacela Halfacre Matsu Career Tech High School, acting Alaska State President


Monica Bustillos Matsu Career Tech School, acting Alaska State Vice-President


Tyler Germain Matsu Career Tech School, acting Alaska State Secretary


Abigail Jensen Wasilla High School National SkillsUSA officer


I firmly believe that participation in the Skills Organization is a vital component of our Career and
Technical educational opportunities and my sincere hope is that, following the disruptions caused by the
Pandemic, we can focus on revitalizing our Alaska SkillsUSA organization with renewed energy and
leadership and welcome all your support and help in moving forward.


Ray Jensen

Alaska State SkillsUSA Director
907-355-4558
rnj@mtatonline.net
alaskaskillsusa@gmail.com

A Message From the National Office

4/27/2020 Update

As we all may know, National conference was canceled. Although they are still exploring ideas for a virtual conference for voting delegates and the election of National officers. 

Continue to stay up to date by following the Nationals SkillsUSA social media pages or by checking their website. 

CTE Directors & Advisors,

 

As of today, March 12, 2020 we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s SkillsUSA Conference scheduled for March 22nd to 28th. Unfortunately, the logistics of a compressed time-line and uncertainty about further developments pertaining to the spread of the COVID-19 make it impossible to reschedule the conference.   

My morning has been consumed with gathering information from a wide array of participating school districts, UAA, other stakeholders and our national headquarters. Several districts, including Anchorage and Fairbanks have issued notices that they are not allowing students to travel out of district and that their facilities are not available for hosting any events. 

I am fully aware of the potential negative impact that canceling the state conference has on our students; many have successfully competed at the state and national level in the past and were anticipating advancing their leadership, technical skills and accomplishments at this year’s conference. Given that the overwhelming majority of our events are intentionally designed to involve the competitors in on-site, hands-on performance events, I feel that it is inherently impossible to hold any of the events telephonically or at remote locations and retain any parity in the competitions. At this point, I am not certain if the National Conference scheduled for June will take place. Once that decision has been made, I will work on a contingency plan to send at least a voting delegate to the conference.  

Financially, this is creating a significant issue for the State Organization as a whole; we rely on the revenue from the conference to fund activities throughout the year. I have been in contact with the Garden Inn concerning reservations; at this point it appears that they will be honoring all requests for full refunds. I strongly urge anyone who has made reservations to contact Ms. Smith at the Garden Inn as quickly as possible to request a refund; please let me know if you have any issues. Additionally, if you have already paid your State Conference fee, please send me a request for refund. I will fully honor all requests, just need to establish the paper trail for accounting purposes.

Like many related organizations, we understand the need to safeguard the health and safety of all of our Skills members and like them, are operating with an abundance of caution as we work through this. During the past 35 years that I have been involved in our Alaska SkillsUSA organization we have experienced numerous disruptions to our conference including severe weather, volcanic eruptions and even the disastrous 2018 highway fiasco that effectively isolated Anchorage; we survived those challenges and although this is the first time we have been forced to cancel the conference, we will survive this too. I was heartened to receive a message from Jen Worth, president of the SkillsUSA Board of Directors this morning. She speaks very eloquently about the strength that is at the core of the SkillsUSA organization and sends a strong message of continuity in the face of adversity. I am attaching her message below for you to read.  

 

Please contact me with any concerns or questions; I am relying on all of you to assist in sharing this message with your students, parents, local judges, or others who will be impacted by this cancellation.

 

Stay safe. (and wash your hands!)

If you would like to read the letter from Jen Worth, the president of the SkillsUSA Board of Directors, you can download it here

Official 2020 NLSC Announcement from SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis

*The following has been copied from the SkillsUSA NLSC website, which can be found here.*

The current health crisis we’re facing has affected all walks of life, and, consequently, all aspects of SkillsUSA. That includes our National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Over the last several weeks, SkillsUSA has conducted an exhaustive study of all potential options for holding our national event. As the crisis has changed, so have those options, and we have now made our final decision.

Instead of holding our national conference as planned this June, SkillsUSA will be holding virtual state officer training, delegate sessions and national officer elections, along with other recognition programs as yet undetermined. All other elements of our conference — including our SkillsUSA Championships — will be canceled.  

There are many reasons that have led to this conclusion, but I’d like to share the two most impactful.

 

Number one, there is nothing more important to SkillsUSA than the health and wellbeing of our members. With so much yet unknown about this virus and how long it might affect us, we could not in good conscience move forward with an in-person event this June. Your health and safety will always be our main priority.

Number two, our national event is dependent on state participation. As of this video, 27 of our states have canceled their conferences and would not be participating at our national event even if it was held as planned. Others are basing their decisions on whether or not their school systems reconvene this year, which becomes less likely each day.

To be clear, SkillsUSA completely supports the difficult decisions our dedicated state directors have made over the last several weeks, and we commend them for their tireless work. Nevertheless, without robust state participation, holding our full national conference in any format is simply not a viable option.

I know the disappointment this decision will cause so many of you. It’s a disappointment shared by all of us. But we must rise above that disappointment and remember who we are. We are SkillsUSA.

I assure each one of you: SkillsUSA won’t just survive this crisis. We’ll come through it stronger than ever. This setback is temporary, but the legacy, spirit and strength of this organization endures in each one of you.

Look for more specific details on our plans in the days ahead. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and stay skilled.

 

Chelle Travis
Executive Director
SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA Alaska

Champions at Work

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