Ramona High graduate declines world auto contest offer

Kristofer Smith, front right wearing white shirt, is pictured at the  2010 National SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City.
Kristofer Smith, front right wearing white shirt, is pictured at the 2010 National SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City.

By Pixie Sulser

The auto program at Ramona High School is known for its quality instruction, strong foundation in basic skills, and high levels of expectation, evident in the numerous awards and recognitions the students continuously earn.

Part of the program is supporting qualifying students as they prepare for contests and demonstrations on a national level at the SkillsUSA competitions in Kansas City each year.

The learning and awards, however, don’t seem to stop upon graduation from RHS.

Kristofer Smith, a 2010 graduate of Ramona High School, was recently invited to try out for a spot on the SkillsUSA Team as it competes for the 2013 WorldSkills title in Germany. During his senior year at RHS, Smith captured third place in the auto division at the 2010 National Competition in Kansas City. It was this recognition that prompted the invitation from Scott Norman, chair of SkillsUSA Auto Division, asking Smith to submit a portfolio for possible selection to the 2013 SkillsUSA Team.

Only one spot on the team would be for an auto contestant, and that’s the spot Smith was invited to try out for.

The only people asked to submit portfolios for consideration were the first, second, and third place national winners from 2009 to the present.

The auto division contestant chosen in the Kansas City world trials will be flown all over the United States receiving instruction from the best factory trained technicians in America. Then it would be off to Germany to take part in further training at the headquarters of Toyota, Honda, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Subaru.

Smith chose to turn down the offer.

“After weeks of talking with family and my auto instructors at RHS, Mike Jordan and Mike Saavedra, I decided I didn’t want to put my career to the side to chase a dream,“ said Smith.

Smith works as a star certified Mercedes Benz technician at Mercedes Benz of Escondido and is working toward becoming master certified.

“It is the opportunity of a lifetime, but I feel I have had my time at the top,” he said. “I was part of the televised Drag Race High crew, and I received bronze in a national competition, so I called Scott Norman, thanked him for the chance, but declined the invitation. He was very complimentary and understood my decision.”

Smith participated in the RHS auto program beginning his sophomore year and continued until graduation.

Throughout his high school career, he competed in a variety of contests and demonstrations, earning awards on several levels.

In addition, he helped other students prepare for their competitions.

“The skills I learned as part of the RHS auto program play a huge factor in my daily life,” said Smith. “I was never very good at math and English classes, but the auto program helped me with everything. The knowledge is there if students put forth the effort and time to learn. Mike Jordan was a great inspiration to me. The program lost a huge teaching force when he retired.”

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization that serves students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations. Its mission is “to help its members become world class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.”

The SkillsUSA team plans to field its largest team ever for the 42nd WorldSkills Competition to be held in Leipzig, Germany in July 2013. Approximately 1,000 competitors from 53 countries competing in 43 official competitions and five demonstrations contests will vie for the WorldSkills title.

   
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