Skip to main content

South Valley Journal

JATC students bring home gold, silver, bronze medals

Aug 16, 2021 10:03AM ● By Jet Burnham

Tinh Nguyen and James Davies earned Silver in Web Design at the National SkillsUSA competition in June. (Melinda Mansouri/JATC)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Layla Basic brought home the gold for Utah and for Jordan District with her performance in nail design at both the SkillsUSA state competition in the spring and again in the national competition this summer.

Basic learned nail tech skills from classes she took at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers her senior year. She practiced her nail design for the competition for five months.

“I think it was important to learn how much progress you can make by just working on something,” Basic said. “I think that's why I did earn the gold, because I took so much time and effort, and, honestly, I was hard on myself when I was doing it, and I put my all into it.”

Basic’s nail design stood out from the other competitors, many who created nail patterns, with her intricate images of the Santa Monica Pier, Golden Gate Bridge, beach, and lighthouse.

Basic said the competition was challenging because of the time factor-- it normally took three hours to create her complex nail design—the competition gave her one. However, because it was a virtual competition this year, she said it wasn’t as stressful. She wasn’t surrounded by competitors in a foreign environment but in her JATC classroom, where she’d been practicing her design for months.

She said placing at the top of the competition has given her confidence. Preparing for the competitions also gave her a much-needed boost this spring, when she was feeling low due to the pandemic and an unusual senior year. 

“That was the one thing I did have motivation for so I really tried hard at it, and I'm glad I did because it got me out of that weird state,” she said.

Basic’s nail instructor, Shannon Mechling, encourages her students to participate in competitions because they are a great opportunity for students to further their skills.

“The competition arena is probably one of the best places to learn because competitors are not afraid of sharing tips, techniques, different things to do or try,” she said. Additionally, students get feedback from judges on ways they can improve.

JATC web design instructor Melinda Mansouri requires her students to participate in competitions to help them develop work skills, as well as grit, determination and teamworking skills.

“The students leave with better skills—they just walk out better web developers,” she said. “They just walk out with confidence that they didn't walk in with. And anytime you are starting a skill set, that confidence, being able to really produce that in that amount of time, just changes everything about what's next for them.”

Mansouri noticed a difference in her students who weren’t able to participate in the SkillsUSA 2020 competition, which was canceled due to COVID-19. They were less confident heading into their spring internships. 

This was one of the few years any of Mansouri’s students have qualified for nationals, which only accepts one team from each state. And it was the first year she had students finish in the top 10.

James Davies and Tinh Nguyen earned Silver in Web Design. Together, they designed and coded a website from scratch in just 12 hours, a project Mansouri said would normally take 50 man hours.

The two-member team also earned gold at the region and state competitions, where their final scores were well above the second and third place winners, said Mansouri.

“These are amazing kids,” Mansouri said. “They just have such skill and talent. It's exciting for me to send them out and see what happens next. I'm always watching to see what they're doing post graduation.”

For more information about JATC classes available to add to high school schedules, visit

Medalists for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference:

Layla Basic, Gold in Nail Care

James Davies and Tinh Nguyen, Silver in Web Design

Kaitlin Beck, Top 9 award in Customer Service

Medalists for the SkillsUSA Utah state competition:

James Davies and Tinh Nguyen, Gold in Web Design

Jesse Gavino and Daniel Gross, Silver in Web Design

Eternity Draper, Bronze in Pin Design

Ethan Stott, Bronze in T-Shirt Design

Hayley Arnold, Gold in Criminal Justice

Kaitlin Beck, Gold in Customer Service

Brock Lauitzen, Gold in Fire Fighting

Giovanni Mammano, Silver in Fire Fighting

Bryton Orgill, Bronze in Fire Fighting

Dannon Sumsion, Gold in Job Skill Demonstration O

Kari Barclay, Silver in Job Skill Demonstration A

Kelsie Rowe, Bronze in Job Skill Demonstration A

Katelyn Andrus, Bronze in Job Skill Demonstration O

Lily Watterson, Bronze in Job Interview

Ezekial Tatum, Gold in Barbering

Sarah Eddwards, Silver in Cosmetology

Layla Basic, Gold in Nail Care

Jessica Hernandez Sandoval, Silver in Nail Care

Brogen Astle, Gold in Welding Sculpture

Forest Curtis, Silver in Welding Sculpture

Taylor Wood, Zach Smith and Troy Dailey, Silver in Welding Fabrication