“Power Five” competes at SkillsUSA Nationals in Lousiville


Izzy Cavazzoni

One cancelled flight, six hours in the Newark Liberty International Airport and $4589 worth of fundraising later, the five students attending the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) arrived in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday, June 21.

Dubbed “Power Five” by outgoing math teacher and SkillsUSA advisor Deborah Maher, the group consisted of incoming seniors Audrey Mannion of Brielle, Julianne Sackett of Rumson and Izzy Cavazzoni of Wall competing in Career Pathways Arts and Communications. Incoming senior Emma Wilenta of Wall entered the NLSC contesting in Early Childhood Education and incoming junior Alexis Colucci of Middletown showcased her skills in Graphic Communications. Each member of Power Five won state-level gold and chose to continue on to the national level.

While Power Five and their chaperone, english teacher Emily Crelin, were scheduled to leave on Monday, June 19, poor weather conditions cancelled their initial flight. The next available flight for the group took off around 9:00 a.m. the following Wednesday.

This delay caused all five competitors to reach their respective competitions late, some missing orientation, familiarization or written tests. After landing in Louisville, the five went directly to the Kentucky Exposition Center to compete.

“Even though it was difficult getting to Kentucky and the competition itself was a lot different than what I imagined, going to nationals was such an amazing opportunity…” Mannion said.

Daytime events consisted mostly of competition, where in their spare time, Power Five engaged in pin trading with students from across the country. At night, Crelin and the rest of the group explored Louisville and dined at authentic southern restaurants like Doc Crowe’s and Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen.

On Friday, June 23, all participants attended the closing ceremony where competition winners were announced. Mannion, Sackett, Cavazzoni, Wilenta and Colucci did not place in the top three of their respective competitions. But, Maher remains proud of Power Five despite their “rough start.”

“I am so proud of them,” Maher said. “More importantly, going out there was the experience of a lifetime.”