MOHAVE VALLEY — Ethan Fromm was nervous, confident and excited going into the
SkillsUSA Nationals in late June.
It turns out that two of those emotions were justified and the other had been defeated already.
Fromm, a junior-to-be at River Valley High School, placed third nationwide at the competition in Louisville, Kentucky.
A graphic design and animation student, Fromm showed off a variety of skills for the judges, who scored his performance on his résumé, his demonstration of the job skills, his appearance (jacket and tie required) and his oral presentation.
“When you get to the nationals, every little point is really scrutinized by the judges,” RVHS SkillsUSA adviser Mike Jackson said. “They know in 3 or 4 seconds if they can deduct something from you.”
Fromm competed in Job Demonstration A, where each contestant was to present an entry- level job skill as if seeking employment after high school.
His project was a corrugated plastic sign reminding people of the date of next year’s general election. He wanted to make a roadside sign to inform voters of the importance of casting their ballots for president and other offices.
Fromm said he was surprised at being chosen one of the finalists after the first day of competition, and again at earning a medal.
Jackson said that Fromm has shown the dedication needed to successfully compete at the national level. He said Fromm’s path to success came after he finished fourth at a regional competition in Yuma in February.
Jackson said Fromm was disappointed in that outcome, and after a self-examination committed to practicing harder.
That paid off with a state championship in April and the national bronze medal. In SkillsUSA, only state champions go on to nationals.
Fromm said that Jackson and others in the organization helped him from Jackson’s recording him so he could study his performance to the other students offering words of support at competitions.
Jackson said that Fromm, over the Christmas break, went through a book on “fearless speaking” and came up with ideas for improving himself in that area.
At the event, he spent his downtime not checking out the other competitors, but working on breathing and relaxing.
This is the ninth straight year that RVHS has had students at nationals, Jackson said, and the second year in a row with a bronze medalist. Jeremy Dangerfield placed third in the nation last year.
Jackson said that part of what separates Fromm from other state champions is that he continues to seek improvement.
“He’s very coachable,” Jackson said. “He listens to constructive criticism.”
He said that Fromm’s dedication spilled beyond the end of the school year; after classes let out, the pair would work four hours a day, four days a week.
“It was that commitment that really set him apart,” Jackson said.
Fromm was also recognized in Kentucky for his volunteer community service, receiving a gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. River Valley students Brenda Cruz and Hanna Gutowski earned bronze President’s Volunteer Service Awards.
Fromm said he is considering going into graphic design or information technology, and that he feels confident now in his ability to work in the former field.
In the shorter term, he has already set a goal for next year.
“I want silver or gold at nationals,” Fromm said.