A Taft 7-12 CTE (Career Technical Education) teacher and a dozen of her students took home several awards in the SkillsUSA state competition last weekend in Clackamas. Taft Culinary and Foods teacher Julia Westbrook was named “Advisor of the Year” in the state of Oregon. She will go one to compete with other state winners at the SkillsUSA National Competition in Atlanta in June. Westbrook said the win was a surprise. “I’m not exactly the type of person who likes the limelight so it was probably for the best that I didn’t know or I would
have been all nervous about it,” she said. SkillsUSA is a great competition, according to Westbrook, because it puts a light on technical and skilled jobs and students are responsible for their own successes.
“While I do help coach them, it’s 100% up to the individual. They look over the technical standards and self assess what they want to work on. Then we do it. By the time we get to state, I may be able to help for a few minutes but it’s on them to perform.” Westbrook wasn’t the only Taft representative to take home a top award. Earning first place medals and the opportunity to compete at Nationals were Taft CTE students Luis (Nicky) Delain-Callazo in customer service and Michelle Hernandez in early childhood education. Elizabeth Melo won the top spot in cake decorating but that event is only at the state level.
Taft 7-12 National SkillsUSA award winners 2023:
● Baking and pastry arts: 3rd Sam Clanton, 4th Nathaniel Rivera (with tie breaker!)
● Cake decorating: 1st Elizabeth Melo
● Computer programming: 6th Nathaniel Rivera
● Culinary arts: 3rd Ulices Alvarado
● Customer service: 1st Nicky Delain-Callazo, 2nd Jr Doran
● First Aid/CPR: 4th Michelle Hernandez-Jimenez
● Early childhood education: 1st Michelle Hernandez-Jimenez, 3rd Taylor Balsoma
● Quiz bowl team: 3rd Sam Clanton, Ulices Alvarado, Chelsea Roderick, Isai Fuentes Montes
● Restaurant service: 4th Jr Doran, 5th Morgan Miller
● Safety participation: 3rd Nicky Delain-Callazo, 4th David Lane, 5th Nathaniel Rivera
● Oregon Advisor of the Year: Julia Westbrook
LCSD Superintendent Dr. Karen Gray said CTE programs are a gift to our kids. “Julia's program has been a great real life practical experience for our students,” Gray said. “The Taft Culinary Arts CTE program has provided the food for our state administrator's conference to the delight of its members. We are super proud of Julia and her students for the magic they
create in Culinary Arts. Go Tigers!"