For recent Anselmo-Merna graduate Rebecca (Becca) Maring the culmination of her SkillsUSA experience was bigger than she expected but her hard work paid off. The national SkillsUSA competition was held in Lousiville, Kentucky and welcomed thousands of students to compete in more than 100 different events categorized in sectors ranging from health sciences to construction and manufacturing to arts/communications
“The actual main building that I was competing in held, you know, hundreds of other competitions. This room was massive. My hometown Merna could have fit inside of this building, it was insane. The competition when I got there was also insane, it was mind blowing,” Maring continued. “The details were amazing on some of these projects that I was competing against.”
Maring competed alongside 43 other students from across the nation in the high school division of Welding Sculpture and she left Kentucky with a 7th place finish.
The Anselmo-Merna Crime Scene Investigation team placed third at the state competition but was also able to travel to Kentucky for nationals. A huge congratulations goes out to Olivia Bryant, Kaitlyn Jacquot, and Carson Leibhart who placed 9th out of nearly 50 teams in their event.
For the last couple years with more than 200 hours invested, Becca created a fully functional human marionette made completely out of stainless steel. Her sculpture includes the metaphor of being controlled and incorporates a 12-inch man who is a mounted puppet complete with controls, chains by wrists and ankles, is completely made from scratch.
“I enjoy all kinds of art and I like drawing humans so I thought that I would kind of carry that over and then the marionette I wanted him to be complex enough to compete. Movement is a more difficult thing to do so I kind of I wanted to incorporate the movement but I decided that him being a marionette and the shackles on him—the way the chains attach to his wrists and whatnot–that it was kind of symbolizing being controlled and whatnot and that’s an interpretation of however you’d like but pretty much just any way you want to connect to it, being controlled,” Becca said.
Becca had placed 4th at state the last two years and was determined to make it to nationals. Maring said the project was very challenging as she had never done anything to that extent and found that it was a continuous learning experience.
Becca is the daughter of Dewey and Pearl Maring and began learning to weld just a few years ago at her father’s business, Dewey’s Implement & Welding in Merna. It was the unending encouragement from her parents that kept Becca’s creative spirit alive.
“From day one they were encouraging for you know any type of creativity and working with my hands, just letting me be free to do whatever and always encouraging the creativity even though some of the things I would make was a mess they would still be proud and encouraging,” Becca said of her parents Dewey and Pearl.
In an interview with KCNI/KBBN, Becca also thanked her SkillsUSA advisor Jason Reed.
“He was amazing. He was the one that got me into it originally three years ago and then pretty much just encouraged me to push my limits,” Becca said of Mr. Reed who assisted her with the time and supplies necessary to complete her project.
In an average competition, Becca told KCNI/KBBN that Anselmo-Merna students are usually competing against schools of the same size. However at nationals, she, Bryant, Jacquot, and Leibhart enjoyed competing against and also becoming friends with students from across the entire country.
“I just think it was pretty crazy that we, you know, come from a school of like 300 and then we’re going to compete against high schools that have thousands and thousands,” she said. “All the sudden we’re actually competing against some of the big dogs! It was kind of amazing.”
Becca will be attending Central Community College in Hastings this fall to pursue business administration and from there, Becca said the possibilities are endless when it comes to her future!