SJA News


SJA Student Wins Silver at National SkillsUSA Competition

Emma Smith '19 of St. Johnsbury won a Silver Medal in Commercial Baking at the 2019 SkillsUSA Leadership & Skills Conference. As part of the test, Emma was required to bake seven different items within a 7 ¼ hour period.


Emma Smith '19 of St. Johnsbury won a Silver Medal in Commercial Baking at the 2019 SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, KY. More than 6,500 career and technical education students from across the U.S. traveled to Kentucky to compete in 103 different trade, technical and leadership events after winning gold medals in their respective states.

In the Commercial Baking competition, contestants were allotted 7 hours and 15 minutes (with a mandatory 30-minute lunch break) to produce items from seven categories: one decorated cake, wheat bread in three shapes, 24 eclairs and cream puffs, 36 large chocolate chip cookies, 24 danish in 3 shapes, 18 large pepper and cheese scones, and six apple galettes. She also had to complete a 100 question baking and pastry written test that will give her a Retail Bakers Association Journeyman certification if she earned above a 75. The results of the test will be announced soon.

Paula Bystrzycki, Emma's Culinary Arts teacher, said, "This year the Commercial Baking competition was more difficult than previous years with new recipes and added required new skills. Emma spent many hours in the school kitchen practicing and preparing for the opportunity to prove herself in Louisville. On the day of the national competition, she rose to the challenge and all of her hard work paid off in a big way. Emma showed a great deal of determination as she finished all of her product with only minutes to spare. As her advisor, I could not be more proud of how she never gave up on her way to winning the silver medal."

Also participating from the Academy were Vermont state gold-medal winners Becca Houde '19 in Restaurant Services, Katelyn Molleur '19 in Culinary Art, Alexis Collins '19 in Prepared Speech, and Dylan Villeneuve '20 and Shawn Guckin '19 in Teamworks.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including healthcare. The organization's programs also help to establish industry standards for job skill training in the lab and classroom and promote community service.

Academy Headmaster Tom Lovett said, "SkillsUSA is an impressive program, and I am pleased that we are able to offer our students so many opportunities to excel at the national level. I am proud of all of the students who competed in Louisville, and I am grateful to their teachers for all of the extra time and effort they put in to prepare for this competition. Special congratulations to Emma; what an honor to be among the top chefs in the country!"