Homewood-Flossmoor High School Career & Technical Education Department teacher Bill Merchantz with winning students, from second left, Aydenn Harris, Charley Dieringer, Nestor Gomez and Jackson Grage who competed in the SkillsUSA Illinois Career Competition Championships. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Education, Local News

H-F team brings home first place honors at Skills USA

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School team of Charley Dieringer, Nestle Gomez and Jackson Grage won first place in the Automated Manufacturing Technology competition hosted by the SkillsUSA Illinois Career Competition Championships.

Homewood-Flossmoor High School Career & Technical Education Department teacher Bill Merchantz with winning students, from second left, Aydenn Harris, Charley Dieringer, Nestor Gomez and Jackson Grage who competed in the SkillsUSA Illinois Career Competition Championships. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Homewood-Flossmoor High School Career & Technical Education Department teacher Bill Merchantz with winning students, from second left, Aydenn Harris, Charley Dieringer, Nestor Gomez and Jackson Grage who competed in the SkillsUSA Illinois Career Competition Championships. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

More than 5,000 students from across Illinois participated in the 2023 SkillsUSA competition in Peoria in April showcasing career and technical specialties, including from health, trade, industrial and technical fields. Judges select the fields for competition, determine the format of the contests and establish the standards for judging each competition.

Four H-F students were accompanied by Careers and Technical Education Department teacher Bill Merchantz. In 2019, an H-F team also took first place for Automated Manufacturing Technology.

In addition to the team, student Aydenn Harris participated as an individual in the Related Technical Math competition.

For the team competition, Dieringer, Gomez and Grage had to prototype a part using their skills on various apparatus. They had to present a finished product they produced in four hours using specialty equipment. 

They simulated a miniature factory with one student designated the CAD (computer assisted design) designer, another programmed the CAM (confusion assessment method) tool pathway program, and the third student set up the CNC (computerized numerical control) equipment and cut out the parts. 

H-F offers courses in welding, manufacturing, automotive and engineering through the CTE Department.

“Our students are marketable and employable. Having a variety (of programs) is what make us unique,” Merchantz told the District 233 school board May 16 when the students were honored for their performance at the SkillsUSA competition. 

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