Stone County Students Attend SkillsUSA’s Leadership Training Institute

Above: Students, including a cohort from Mississippi, pose in front of the U.S. Capitol during September's SkillsUSA Washington Leadership Training Institute.
Below: Mississippi's SkillsUSA State Officers Destiny Davis (left) and Caleb Johnson earned the National SkillsUSA Statesman Award at the conference.

A delegation of students and instructors from Mississippi, including a cohort from Stone County High School’s culinary arts program, met with Washington, D.C. lawmakers last week and discussed how career and technical education (CTE) programs prepare students for college and careers.

SkillsUSA State Officers Destiny Davis and Caleb Johnson joined SHS culinary arts teacher Jaclyn Parker as part of Mississippi’s delegation. Both students earned the National SkillsUSA Statesman Award at the conference.

The four-day SkillsUSA Washington Leadership Training Institute conference provided students an opportunity to grow in their professionalism, communication and leadership skills, which they applied during their visits to Congress. Mississippi’s delegation talked to staff members of Rep. Steven Palazzo and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith about their education paths and CTE training programs, the value of career and technical education and the benefits of their SkillsUSA participation. They explained how today’s workplace requires employees with career readiness skills, and that SkillsUSA develops these skills in students of all ages and backgrounds.

The conference focused on advanced communications skills including development of a SkillsUSA Framework story to share during their visits with elected officials. It also included training for students and advisors on personal and workplace skills; a panel discussion about effective legislative visits with experts from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate; a tour of monuments and museums; and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

SkillsUSA is one of the nation’s largest individual membership organizations for CTE students, and its programs are integrated into the CTE curriculum. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 94% compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 86%. CTE also helps create a trained pipeline of future workers to support a strong American economy and global competitiveness.


Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

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