CITY, AZ - April Bracker, a senior at Tuba City High School and
the daughter of Ruby and Davey Bracker, beat 16 student welding
competitors to take first place in the 11th Annual SkillsNATIVE
(Northeast Arizona Technological Institute of Vocational Education)
Bracker competed against students from eight other area high
schools including Chinle, Ganado, Monument Valley-Kayenta, Pinon,
Red Mesa, Tuba City, Valley-Sanders and Window Rock in Gas Metal
Arc Welding. She received a scholarship to attend Tulsa Welding
School after she graduates this May.
The SkillsNATIVE consortium is designed to help young people
work toward higher education, specialized professions or vocational
More than 200 students competed in the competition that took
place at the Tuba City High Warrior Pavilion.
The SkillsNATIVE competition not only readies students for real
careers but it also helps them be more successful in their job search
by teaching them how to prepare a cover letter and sample resumes
and to participate in "mock interviews."
The welding competition required each student to perform a specific
welding procedure. The students had one hour and a half to perform
the procedure in various positions, just as if they were in a real
life work situation in tight spots, around corners and in very cold
or very heated weather conditions.
Some were required to do STIG welding and to do other doing
MIG welding in uphill, downhill or overhead situations.
"I have always really been interested in a hands-on career
for myself," Bracker said. "Both my dad and my brother
are welders and they travel everywhere to do commissioned welding
work. I have seen job offers for welding on the Internet as far
away as Australia and I think professional welding would also provide
me a really rewarding way to travel as well, while doing a needed
Bracker credited the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program
at her school with helping her succeed.
"The course work at the TC High CTE program has shown me
how to work with MIG welding, Oxy-acetaline gases using lots of
math and science and of course firsthand safety, safety, safety
in using the tools and equipment associated with welding,"
she said. "I really like how our teachers have shown us so
much support, patience and constantly encouraging us to try our
hardest, to work our hardest in our chosen areas of study."
Tuba City CTE welding teacher Jonathan Yazzie is proud of all
his students but he had much to say about Bracker's future.
"April is just flat out gifted with welding," he said.
"Usually I give my students about a month to master enough
skill and knowledge to even be ready to enter into any of the local
student vocational competitions, but April was ready within two
weeks. Her errors were constantly decreasing, which shows a good
sense of mastery for specific welding skills. When she gets to Tulsa
Welding School in the fall, she'll continue her remarkable progress
that she started here at Tuba High and will have it all down by
the time she graduates from their program."
Bracker appreciates the support of her classmates as well.
"I also really appreciated how my own classmates, one of
which also took second place in the Skills competition, Tonaph Scott,
really supported me during the competition. They said, 'you got
this April, you got this,'" Bracker said. "When the announcer
started reading the names of the welding winners, he read third
place, then second place and I was thinking 'oh no, I didn't place
at all.' Then he read my name in first place, I was so overwhelmed!"
SkillsNATIVE is an overlay career technical education district
that serves three counties and eight area Native high schools with
approximately 2,200 CTE students from grades 10 to 12.