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CCTI students take gold at SkillsUSA

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    Daphnie Morris, from left, Chaya Jones and Hannah Dorward pose for a photo outside of the Carbon Career and Technical Institute in Jim Thorpe. The students won gold in the SkillsUSA Promotional Bulletin Board nationals. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

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    The promotional bulletin board designed by Jones, Morris and Dorward. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published July 23. 2019 12:21PM

When 17-year-old Chaya Jones heard that her team’s design had taken the gold, she started shaking.

Her teammates, Daphnie Morris and Hannah Dorward, both 17, celebrated with her. The girls cried, laughed and screamed; their monthslong efforts had finally paid off.

“It (was) kind of like, ‘did this really happen?’ ” Morris said.

In June, Jones, Morris and Dorward — all students in the graphic design program at Carbon Career and Technical Institute — boarded a plane bound for Louisville, Kentucky, to take part in SkillsUSA’s nationwide championships.

They were just three of more than 6,500 students to participate in nationals, according to a Skills­USA news release detailing the event. SkillsUSA is a nationwide organization, whose membership consists of vocational school students.

The pressure was palpable; the competition Jones, Morris and Dorward entered, promotional bulletin board design, was just one of 103 taking place over a two-day period.

But before they became gold medalists, Jones, Morris and Dorward had to become a team.

Jones and Dorward started working on their competition board in September. They had a third member in the same afternoon class period, who eventually dropped out of the project. The two sought another partner, who ended up competing in a different event.

Dorward said they went through a total of five different partners before finally finding Morris, who attended class in the morning. A slight scheduling conflict had little bearing on the partnership. The three met after school every week to work on their project.

“We were all like brainstorming ideas at each other, like lightning speed,” Jones said.

Their task was to create a board promoting this year’s championship theme: Career-ready starts here. The board needed to be made of paper or foam board. It couldn’t exceed 2 inches in depth. Their budget was $300.

The girls wanted their design to relate to teens, so they cut it in the shape of an arcade machine, complete with an interchangeable screen and 3D joystick.

Jones, Morris and Dorward presented their board at the state level first. They won the gold in that division, which made them eligible to move on to nationals.

But competing in a ballroom at Hershey Lodge, the girls said, paled in comparison to the challenge that awaited them in Louisville.

The expo center where they showcased their board was “huge.” And when it came time to present in front of judges, Jones, Morris and Dorward had to speak over welding and construction competitions taking place nearby.

“It’s very nerve-racking,” Jones said. “But we managed to push through.”

Their board won over 37 other competing designs.

“We were really happy,” Dorward said.

Jones, Morris and Dorward delivered a condensed version of their winning presentation at the Carbon Career and Technical Institute committee meeting Thursday.

“I think they did an excellent job,” Michele Klock, Carbon Career’s graphic design instructor, said that evening. “They definitely put a lot of effort in.”

The girls have ambitious dreams for their futures. Jones, who graduated this year, wants to live in Philadelphia and work as a freelance graphic designer. Morris hopes to open her own photography studio. Dorward dreams of being an animator for Disney.

If the two gold medals adorning each of their necks are any indication, all three have the wherewithal to make those dreams real.

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