GUILFORD, Maine — Ten students from Maine postsecondary and high schools brought home top honors for their proficiency in technical and vocational skills at the annual National Leadership and Skills Conference SkillsUSA competition held late last month in Kansas City, Mo.
Another 25 Maine students received certificates for achieving a certain score in the annual competition that was designed and judged using industry standards for employment.
More than 5,500 students who won gold medals in their state competitions participated in the 96 contests offered at the national competition, according to Thomas W. Holdsworth, associate executive director of the nonprofit SkillsUSA. At the event, students compete in high school and postsecondary divisions, showcasing their skills in areas ranging from digital game development to welding.
Devin Lyshon of United Technologies Center in Bangor and Tyler Nadeau of Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor brought home gold medals in each of the two divisions in first aid-cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It was the second consecutive year Nadeau brought home gold from the nationals, winning last year as a senior from Brewer High School.
In that competition, Lyshon and Nadeau each were presented with five scenarios of life-threatening situations they had to address using their skills in CPR and an automated external defibrillator, a self-contained unit that monitors heart rhythms and can administer an electrical shock if necessary. Despite a six-minute time limit for each scenario, both Bangor contestants brought home new records along with their awards.
“These two here still hold the highest score ever attained at the nationals,” said Don Wade, a substitute teacher at UTC Bangor and certified CPR-AED instructor who helped train the pair.
Nadeau described himself as a “record breaker,” a claim supported by the clinking of the numerous gold medals around his neck.
Rich Palmer, a public safety instructor at UTC Bangor who helped Nadeau and Lyshon prepare for the events, said the two view themselves as friendly competitors despite sharing a home state.
“There’s a bit of rivalry between the two,” Palmer said, with Lyshon adding that he had “already beat [Nadeau] once, I could beat him again.”
Nadeau described his and Lyshon’s training regimen as “unreal,” consuming two to three hours each day from early December until the day of competition. Palmer was quick to note that the pair’s training was conducted alongside a regular class schedule, with Lyshon continuing to prepare after graduation from Bangor High School.
“It was nonstop until the night before the competition,” Lyshon said of his training.
Tri County Technical Center in Dexter had a gold winner in Ian Maines, who placed in computer maintenance technology.
“It means a lot,” Maines said Thursday of his gold medal win. “It says a lot about the tech center. [The instructors are] awesome people trying to help students.”
Maines, who was up against 39 other students, said the competition was “extremely challenging and tough.”
“They make it borderline impossible to win,” he said.
Holdsworth said the competitions are challenging. For example, in the first aid-cardiopulmonary resuscitation competition, contestants are evaluated on their ability to perform procedures or take appropriate action based on scenarios relating to medical emergencies, Holdsworth said. There also is a written examination.
In addition to Maines, Lyshon and Nadeau, other gold award winners were: Jessica Stepp, Presque Isle Regional Vocational Center, pin design; and Dylan Caron of Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, technical computer applications.
Kirk Gagnon of Southern Maine Community College won a bronze award in criminal justice, and silver awards were won by Cassie Murchison of Presque Isle Regional Vocational Center, preschool teaching assistant; and Lauren Sternad, Eryka Wilson, and Laurel Criss, all of Capital ATC of Augusta, techprep-health services.