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Shawsheen Tech's Kennedy Heading To SkillsUSA Nationals

Feb 23, 2016 08:35PM ● By Bill Gilman
(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by Shawsheen Valley Tech.)

BILLERICA – Junior Sarah Kennedy recently finished first in the SkillsUSA State Pin competition, earning the Design and Visual Communications student several noteworthy distinctions.

For winning the top prize in the statewide competition, Kennedy will represent Massachusetts at the SkillsUSA national competition in June in Louisville, Kentucky. There, and also at the state finals in Marlborough, her pin will be worn by all Massachusetts competitors. At nationals, the pins are exchanged with other finalists from around the country in one of the weekend’s most hallowed traditions.

“She is incredibly creative,” said Alison Ouellette, a DVC instructor and a SkillsUSA advisor at Shawsheen. “She has a very strong work ethic and is very focused. She’s definitely a leader in the classroom. She’s a wonderful student.”

“I always knew I liked drawing and art,” said Kennedy. “Something about it always just worked with me and when I tried it out in shop, I really liked it.”

Kennedy’s winning design will also be put up against the other state pins and judged in a contest at the nationals.

“She will compete against all of the other state pin winners from across the country,” said Ouellette.

Matthew Boudreau of Tewksbury finished third in the pin design competition while Shawsheen also had two students nearly win the equally-prestigious T-shirt design contest. Sophomore Josselyn Siegel of Wilmington was second for T-shirt design and junior Kayli Lucente of Billerica was third.

Kennedy is the third straight winner of the State Pin Design competition from Shawsheen.

“It’s really exciting,” Ouellette said. “Students listen to their peers more than anything and if one of their peers says that [winning the pin design award] is a life-changing experience, it definitely helps motivate the other students. It inspires them.”

Last year, Hannah Benning of Tewksbury won the contest and Alex Hamilton of Billerica won the previous year.

In all, more than 200 designs are submitted for consideration each year.

Kennedy’s entry follows the SkillsUSA theme for this year, “Connecting you to career success,” and features the skyline of Boston connected together with all of the symbols of the trades that SkillsUSA represents. The circular pin has a gold background and says “SkillsUSA Massachusetts 2016” on it.”

Ouellette explained that the students researched SkillsUSA to help with the design of both the pins and the T-shirts.

“They need to know in-and-out what Skills is all about,” she said. “They also did the same thing with the state of Massachusetts, not only from our own point of view as residents but from a national view. How do we want to be portrayed? And then they inegrate that into the theme.”

Ouellette said the process included many sketches and drafts before the final product was complete.

Kennedy admits that while most of her work was done in the classroom, she’d occassionally have ideas come to her outside of school. In other words, she put a lot of time into her gold-medal winning effort.

“Sometimes I might have sketched up a pin at home when an idea came to my mind,” she said.

That news didn’t surpise Ouellette, who is getting used to delivering gold-medal winning news to her students.

 “It’s a testament to how hard my students are working,” added Ouellette.

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