Napavine SkillsUSA student to compete in national competition


Napavine High School sophomore Lyla Kirkpatrick will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, in June to compete at the national level after she placed first in the prepared speaking category at the Washington state SkillsUSA conference in late March.

“The theme for SkillsUSA this year was no limits, so I wrote about what it meant to me. It’s a pretty good speech. I really like it,” Kirkpatrick said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce, according to a statement on the organization’s website. SkillsUSA programs include local, state and national competitions in which students demonstrate occupational and leadership skills.

Kirkpatrick first started competing through the Napavine School District’s FFA program when she was in seventh grade. She competed in FFA Creed Speaking Leadership Development last year, reciting the five-paragraph FFA Creed from memory and then answering questions related to it in front of a judge.

Seeing how much Kirkpatrick enjoyed that competition, Career and Technical Education Director David Rutherford encouraged her to compete in SkillsUSA prepared speaking.

“I love speeches. Ever since I was little, I’ve been a talker, so I compete in this because I’m good at it,” Kirkpatrick said.

While about 900 students registered for the Washington state SkillsUSA conference last year, Rutherford estimates over 2,000 students registered for this year’s conference.

Kirkpatrick was one of six Napavine High School students who competed at the state SkillsUSA conference in Tacoma this year, though about 21 Napavine students qualified.

“We’ve got the largest chapter in the state, so we’re pushing ahead,” Rutherford said.

In addition to her win in the prepared speaking category, Kirkpatrick was elected to SkillsUSA state office, placing her on a team of students that plans and leads projects, workshops and conferences for SkillsUSA statewide.

Also placing in state competition, March 21-24, were Patience Dour, who won second place in welding sculpture; Jayla Engkraf, who won third in pin design; and Landon Engelbertson, who won third in the job skills demo.

The school’s urban search and rescue robotics team also performed well in competition, according to the school’s FFA program.

“Congratulations to our SkillsUSA students!” the Napavine School District said in a Facebook post on March 26.

When asked how she feels about the upcoming national competition, Kirkpatrick said, “For me, I’m actually really, really confident … Before competition starts, I’ll freak out, but the second I start talking, I’m just kind of in the zone, and I just kind of flow with it.”

Kirkpatrick thanked Rutherford, her teachers and her parents for supporting her and listening to her practice her speech.

“They got sick of it, but they helped motivate me,” she said.

The national SkillsUSA Championships, held in conjunction with the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, take place June 24 to 28 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

For more information on SkillsUSA in Washington, visit