The goal of a career center is to hone the skills of the next generation of workers.

The goal of a career center is to hone the skills of the next generation of workers.

Thanks to its students' performances at a national skills competition, the Delaware Area Career Center has more proof it is achieving that goal.

Nineteen students in the center's auto collision, career graphics and welding program earned first place in the chapter display contest at the SkillsUSA national championships. The annual event, held this year from June 23-27 in Kansas City, Mo., allows career center and technical students to compete in various skill categories.

The DACC presented Brooke Mack, a junior at Buckeye Valley High School, and Kendall Dorsey, a senior at Hayes High School, with letters of congratulations from Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and state Sen. Kris Jordan last Thursday, Aug. 21. Dorsey and Mack represented the career center at nationals, along with Tyler Thomas, who graduated from Hayes in the spring.

Students also represented the DACC at the competition in the advertising design, extemporaneous speech, photography and web design contests.

Mack said she was thrilled to win first-place recognition for work she completed in her sophomore year.

"It was the most amazing feeling," she said. "It follows you."

Awards and congratulations are nice, she said, but she was more excited that DACC students were able to show industry experts how much they've learned at the school.

"If you're really concerned about your future and you want to make it the best experience you can starting early, SkillsUSA is the way to do it no matter what career choice you do," she said.

In the chapter display competition, students are given mostly free rein to create a display representing the event's slogan, "SkillsUSA: Champions at Work."

Mack said the team rejected several preliminary designs, including a pyramid-shaped display. The students settled on a 8-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide box-like display, with finely cut shapes representing the state of Ohio, the United States and multiple career fields.

"When people ask me what it looks like, I'm like, well, it kind of looks like a washing machine," she said.

The display featured two tablets that played music and displayed images of DACC students practicing their skills.

The three students who went to nationals for chapter display were chosen to represent the DACC because they put in the most hours in on the project, according to their instructors. The 19 students involved with the project together spent more than 1,000 hours working on the display between January and April.

Mack, who was in the career graphics program at the time, said the program contributed all of the "small detailed" work on the display, such as the silhouettes representing different occupations.

Mack said the program had a CO2 laser in its lab that was perfect for minute details and, also, pretty cool.

"The big prize in there was the laser," she said. "Everyone wanted to run it."

Mack also gave the five-minute presentation on the project in front of a panel of industry judges.

After the team came up with a design, the auto collision and welding programs got to work.

"We had to sand it down to bare metal, prime the whole entire thing ... and paint the whole thing," said Dorsey, a student in the auto collision program.

Mack said one of her goals this year is to convince more students to participate in SkillsUSA and raise funds for the DACC's teams.

The DACC's programs are open to all students enrolled in Delaware County's public high schools, as well as students in the Westerville and Worthington school districts.