Madison East students prepare for state Leadership and Skills conference

MADISON, Wis. — Madison East High School students are gearing up for competition.

The 49th annual SkillsUSA Wisconsin State Leadership and Skills Conference kicks off Tuesday.

Students from across the state will gather at the Alliant Energy Center and Madison Area Technical College to show off their skills in different career fields such as cabinetmaking, cosmetology, culinary arts, and even broadcast news production.

“They give you a pile of wood and a set of plans,” senior Victoria Lenius, who is competing in cabinetmaking, said. “I’m really excited for it because I think it’s going to be interesting to have a bit of a time crunch.”

Each competition helps students build skills that they can take with them beyond the classroom.

“I really enjoy being able to make things,” sophomore Aidan Benton, who also built a cabinet, said. “I have a woodshop at my father’s house now and I made a small bookshelf, and I’m working on a small nightstand for my Dad.”

The contests are directed and judged by industry experts, trade associations, and labor organizations, with criteria based on industry standards. Winners will advance to the National SkillsUSA Championships, which are held in June in Atlanta, Ga.