Creating a cabinet from scratch in under seven and a half hours takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

But Buffalo High School can be proud that its own Matt Gardner out-bled and out-sweated most of his competition at the Skills USA national championships last month, SkillsUSA adviser Clark Chesbro said.

“To break the top 10 in the nation is a big deal,” Chesbro said. “Matt was assigned a very difficult project and had the added pressure of being watched by thousands of people, but he really represented our school well.”

Gardner, who graduated from Buffalo High School this spring, took ninth in the nation in a field of more than 50 competitors in carpentry, during the week of June 24 in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Matt took all seven and a half hours for the project and still didn’t quite get it done,” Chesbro said. “But even with 250 points automatically deducted, he still placed in the top 10, which I think speaks a lot to his workmanship.”

Chesbro took five BHS students to the national SkillsUSA championships. Josiah Bartlett and Alexis Wasinger competed in carpentry and advertising design, respectively, and did not place in the top 10 in their competitions. Julia Maertens and Hunter Bartlett represented the school as delegates to the convention and helped pass new rules and regulations for next year’s competition, including a rule that requires the hiring of an interpreter so that non-English-speaking students can compete.

While at the competition, Chesbro also took his students to see the sights in Kentucky, including the famous Churchill Downs racetrack and the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. factory, makers of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

“We didn’t just go to compete but also to enjoy the history and events in the area,” Chesbro said. “In a lot of ways, SkillsUSA is really a growing activity for these kids.”

SkillsUSA is a national career and technical education organization that serves more than 300,000 students across the country. The BHS chapter boasted 22 students enrolled during the 2018-19 school year, Chesbro said.

Students involved in SkillsUSA participate in various competitions that prepare them for life after high school. These include both technical skills competitions in subjects ranging from cosmetology to cabinetmaking and leadership skills competitions, such as parliamentary procedure.

The entire trip to Louisville was self-funded by the students with the help of generous Johnson County residents, Chesbro said. Students paid for the trip through various fundraisers earlier this summer, among them a burger cookout, a raffle and a GoFundMe page.

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