Beattie team shines in SkillsUSA national competition
Saturday, July 13, 2019 | 12:01 AM
Lizzie Ahlborn screamed on stage and raised her hands above her head.
Matt O’Malley and Jeff Swanson’s hands went along for the ride, creating the illusion that she had been lifted off the ground. The trio had every reason to feel like they were on cloud nine.
After working on a project for the last nine months, the A.W. Beattie team recently earned third place in the SkillsUSA National Competition for Chapter Display. Lizzie and Matt, of Northgate, and Jeff, (homeschooled, Pine-Richland), won the state championship in April.
“I honestly still can’t believe we’re third (in the country),” Lizzie said. “It’s pretty crazy when you think about it, but I don’t think we had any doubts that we could do well.”
Six more A.W. Beattie students competed at nationals in other categories.
State champions from across the country competed in the Chapter Display competition, in which teams of three construct a kiosk from scratch to represent their career center and articulate programs, hands-on experiences and workplace safety.
Lizzie brought designs for the project on the first day of her senior year. A.W. Beattie’s team was quickly formed after HVAC instructor Roy Hughes and building construction instructor John Brown referred Matt and Jeff for the competition.
“I’m really happy I experienced this with them,” Lizzie said. “I appreciate them a lot for everything they did. I know I couldn’t have done it alone.”
Lizzie was responsible for the design, art and incorporating educational value into the kiosk. Matt focused on the foundation and structure of the display, and Jeff built several features including an interactive motor for the display.
“As we worked more and more together throughout the school year, we played off of each other very well,” Matt said. “For my only time being in SkillsUSA, I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”
“It was a nice group dynamic,” Jeff added. “If anything went wrong with something like the plaster, Matt could fix it. If our paint chipped, Lizzie could touch it up. If there was anything off mechanically, I could step up. It was nice to have a broad spectrum of skills.”
After taking home the state championship, the team was going to be happy whether or not they placed at nationals.
“I didn’t want to expect too much, because we were going up against the top teams from every other state, and we had some good competition there,” Matt said. “There were some teams that really stood out to us, and to know that we were top three is insane to me.”
Jeff plans to compete in Chapter Display next year, though he’ll have to find two new teammates.
“I competed in the Team Works competition last year and didn’t do so well, so this year it felt good to win at states and to be in third at nationals,” Jeff said. “I’ll be doing it again next year, so hopefully we’ll do even better.”
Lizzie plans to continue her education in the fall and will go from A.W. Beattie’s advertising design program to major in graphic design at Point Park University. Matt, a carpentry and building construction student, went straight into the workforce as a Bellevue Borough employee and plans to be a carpenter.
Makena Joseph, North Allegheny’s Dom Gralia and Northgate’s Kip Kelly won the state championship in Career Pathways Showcase: Arts and Communications. The trio completed three community service projects and presented the results to a panel of judges and competed at nationals.
Three more students who won state championships — Hampton’s Megan Roth in advertising design, Deer Lakes’ Diana Navarrete in job interview, and Nathan Arredondo in T-shirt design — participated in the national competition.