SkillsUSA students compete for best in nation

EAGLE POINT — A dozen Eagle Point High School SkillsUSA Club members are headed to Kansas City, Mo., in June after scoring 19 gold medals at the state competition in Portland last weekend. But the students need the community to attend their annual car show Saturday to help fund the trip, organizers say.

Matt Boren, Eagle Point High School shop teacher and SkillsUSA advisor, describes the organization as the technical skills version of the agricultural-based Future Farmers of America.

"We have students who are participating in welding, culinary arts, speech, computer programming and automotive areas," Boren said, adding that more than 370,000 students participate in SkillsUSA Clubs in every state in the nation.

Boren took two dozen Eagle Point SkillsUSA Club members to Portland last weekend and returned with 19 gold medals. Of those medalists, 12 will go on to compete from June 19 to 24 against the best in the nation in Kansas City, Boren said.

"We're pretty excited," Boren said.

Two 17-year-old seniors, Micaela Saling and Justice Breshears, are headed to nationals after sailing to gold at the state championships. Saling, also a runner-up in this year's Pear Blossom queen competition, won for her photography. Saling said Skills' leadership training has given her an advantage over her classmates when it comes to public speaking.

"All my friends get really nervous about presenting their senior projects," Saling said, laughing. "I tell them it's no big deal. I've given speeches before 500 people."

Breshears, the current president of the Eagle Point chapter, medaled in T-shirt design and customer service. All the Oregon winners will be wearing Breshears' design at the national event, she said. But Breshears is most interested in Saturday's fundraiser, she said.

"I like arts," Breshears said. "But I'm more of a car junkie."

Breshears started participating in SkillsUSA Club through Boren's automotive refinishing programs when she was a freshman. The budget ax has taken those classes, she said. But not the Eagle Point High School Thomas Ussary Memorial Car Show, which is held April 27.

Boren said the show has been an annual event for a few years now and has been a great success. The proceeds from the show go to the Thomas Ussary Memorial Scholarship fund and the Eagle Point High School SkillsUSA Club.

The event includes a car show 'n' shine, poker run, trophies, concessions and many prizes — including a "50/50 engine blow up," he said.

"We run a motor without coolant until it blows up," Boren said.

Contestants pay to place guesses on how long the engine will last before blowing. The person with the closest time wins half of the prize money, he said.

"We've run one for 16 minutes at 3,000 RPMs," Boren said.

Every type of vehicle is welcome, from mopeds to tractor-trailers. Registration begins at 8 a.m. For more information call Boren at 541-830-6397 or email

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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