First place at Cosmo state

“It was super…no one knew what they were doing, but somehow everyone did,” quipped Goshen High School’s Kaitlyn Smith, referring to the Skills USA State Competition in mid-April. Smith, competing with the Fairfield Cosmetology team in both cosmetology and job demonstration, was honest about her perspective. “It was organized chaos. It was super pressurized. If you drop your scissors, you can’t do anything because you can’t clean them after being on the floor. I was so worried about making a mistake. Just happy to get it over with, in that aspect.”

Certainly not the domineering spirit of a state champion, but that’s where Smith wound up, as did her Cosmo classmate, Fairfield High School junior Janet Miller, as the two were voted tops in their categories at the competition in Indianapolis. Smith would make cookie dough as part of her championship job demonstration for the Skills USA judges, taken to a quiet room under time limit to whip up some treats, and also placed third in the ‘chaotic’ larger theatre for her cosmetology project, working among 30 other people for an hour to craft hair designs and specific hair project builds.

Miller was tops in barbering, mastering a series of haircutting techniques and beard trimming.

“I kept leaving the hair too long and having to go back and fix it, I had to redo a few things,” admitted Miller. “I still felt good about what I was doing. We were pretty prepared when we got down there, more so than some of the other people there, and that calmed me down a little.”

Miller’s craftsmanship with the clippers and the scissors will have her and Smith destined to Atlanta and the Skills USA Nationals, where her and Smith’s assumed ‘chaos’ will continue. At least in the interim.

“Nationals will be different because at State, we can bring our own ingredients. You can’t do that at Nationals,” offered Smith. “It’s not like you can bring milk and butter on the plane, so it’ll be an adjustment.”

Miller pointed out that the opportunity will continue to help her moving into her senior year in the Fairfield Cosmetology program.

“It validates that I’m learning more about what I want to do after high school,” Miller said. “I want to be a barber. I can do this. I am going to be good at this. This helps me with my career choice and it further’s myself in my ability and learn more about what I can do.”

Miller and Smith headlined a successful run for the Fairfield Cosmetology team as a whole. Eight of the 12 individuals placed at the State competition, Ashley Bechtel of Fairfield taking silver in the barbering division behind Miller. Jaden Thorn of Wawasee won silver in cosmetology, Wawasee’s Olivia Siri won silver in nail care, and Emma Wilson of Wawasee won silver in esthetics, Goshen’s Gwyneth Wood taking bronze behind Wilson.

Also competing for Fairfield Cosmetology at the State competition were Katlenne Bush, Ariana Macias, Lillian Melendez, Hayden Neer and Audra Yoder.

The Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference is scheduled for June 19-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.