A trio of public safety students has won a first-ever state championship for the Bartow County College and Career Academy.
Public safety students Andrew Bagley, J.T. Jolly and Wyatt Westerfield, all sophomores at Adairsville High School, beat out 13 other teams to win the gold medal in the high-risk felony traffic stop category for the first time at the SkillsUSA Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference March 22-24 attheGeorgia InternationalConventionCenter in College Park.
SkillsUSA is a national career and technical student organization serving high school and college students enrolled in training programs in technical, skilled and service occupations. SkillsUSA Georgia focuses on serving high school students who are involved in architecture, construction, communication, cosmetology, public safety and transportation pathways.
Thestate championships "allowstudentstotaketheskills,knowledgeandexperiencethattheyhavegainedintheirclassroomstoawholenewlevel,ascontestsarebasedonindustrystandards,andbusinesspartnersdesignandjudgethecompetition," a press release from SkillsUSA Georgia said.
"It was amazing to watch the Bartow College and Career Academy public safety students win the gold medal," public safety instructor Don Moody said. "I knew we had a solid team of hard-working, conscientious students who wanted to put BCCCA on the map."
Wyatt, the team captain, said he was "glad we won the gold."
"Working together as a team, giving verbal commands and taking our time with the event made us successful," he said. "We trained as much as possible. It was a privilege to be the high-risk traffic stop leader."
At the competition, the high-risk event is designed to "test the competitors’ abilities to properly and safely conduct a felony traffic stop," Moody said.
"Specific aspects include constitutional issues involving arrests, communication skills, officer safety, proper searching and handcuffing," he said. "Standard and high-risk traffic stops are part of the curriculum that we cover throughout the pathway. Tactical team members are held to a higher standard. Just like a professional law enforcement tactical team, we expect our members to remain in great physical condition, remain calm in adverse situations, make proper decisions and to always remain professional in conduct."
Team members trained for more than 30 hours on the weekends in addition to class time in their quest for the gold.
"We participated in many Saturday training days, and in January, we took it up a notch or two," Moody said.
A second team at BCCCA participated in the prison transport vehicle takeover tactical event and took home third place in the state out of 13 teams.
Woodland High juniors Milly Cantu and Austin Reaid, Cass High sophomore Dakota Coker and junior Tyler Lanham and Adairsville sophomore Stetson Hall and junior Zack Whittington battled their way to a bronze medal in an event that was "very competitive," Moody said.
"Any time you place in the Top 3, you walk away feeling very accomplished and proud," he said. "The six-person team had to develop a plan of execution based on the scenario presented to them, use outstanding cover and communication and use decisive team tactics. The team had to articulate the three-way test when deadly force can be used and provide first-aid measures to the downed corrections officer."
The event also included a 10-station obstacle course that involved running, jumping over 4-foot and 6-foot walls, dragging a tire and stacks as well as a 30-question written law enforcement exam covering legal issues, laws of arrest and constitutional law, he added.
Reaid, the team captain, said it felt "so incredible to win against so many teams.”
"I didn’t doubt for a second my team [could] win," he said, noting the team's biggest strengths were communication and planning. "The teams who competed in the SkillsUSA event were nothing less but determined to win. Everyone worked so hard to get to where we are. I would not give it back for anything."
All contests at the state competition allow students to "perform under great pressure in events that are related to their career pathway," Moody added.
The instructor, who first participated in SkillsUSA in 2009 with Woodland, has no doubt these students will land public safety jobs.
"Without hesitation, I would recommend each one of these students for a job in law enforcement," he said. "It is a privilege to be part of their education career."
Other Bartow County students who placed at the competition were:
• Adairsville High School — Shyann Bailey, first place, electrical construction wiring; Andrew Bearden, Jason Burdette, Vidal Diaz-Sandoval and Hamilton Noggle, first place, Team Works; and Kaylynn Crump, third place, nail care.
• Cass High School — Hunter Holland, Austin Solei, Andrew Wakefield and Corey Willis, third place, Team Works.
Overall, 708 medallions — 283 gold, 230 silver and 195 bronze — in 138 contests were presented to competitors from across the state during the awards ceremony on March 24.
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