BELLFLOWER – Three high school students from Bellflower Unified School District are advancing to the state finals March 31-April 3 in the 49th annual SkillsUSA State Conference, a competition that tests students’ abilities in 150 hands-on career technical education fields.

Bellflower High senior Jacob Wright, who won a gold medal at a recent regional competition for installing a computer cabling system and router, will be joined by Somerset High senior Jason Rappa, who will compete in graphic imaging, and senior Precious Ford, who will compete in advertising page layout.

Bellflower High is a long-time participant in the competition; this is Somerset’s first year.

“It is a central goal of Bellflower Unified to prepare our students for the highly demanding, highly technical requirements of today’s career fields,” said Bellflower Unified Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs. “I am proud of the dedication these students are demonstrating in the mastery of these important skills, and wish them great luck in the state finals.”

The regional competition, held Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, featured about 2,100 students in 27 categories ranging from culinary arts to robotics, from automotive to law enforcement.

Wright, who first competed in 2015, demonstrated excellence and professionalism in the field of home technology integration.

The contest tests students at multiple stations, including computer networking, home theater systems and video security equipment.

Rappa’s graphic arts competition required him to design a logo on computer, print it on special paper and, using heat and pressure, transfer the image into a polyester fabric – the process used for imprinting logos on a variety of athletic gear.

Ford competed in page layout within the Beginning Advertising category. She was tasked with creating an advertising poster and brochure for an imaginary comic book store, using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Testing differs among categories, but all students must take a written test to show their understanding of their field. Rappa also had to do a job interview.

Competitions are demanding, and can take three hours to complete. Thirty to 40 students competed in the categories at the regional level, with less than 1 in 5 making it to state.

The state competition is in San Diego. Only students who win gold medals will advance to the national contest, which features about 6,000 competitors.