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Copperas Cove High student elected to SkillsUSA district office


Special to the Leader-Press 


Copperas Cove High School student Riley Yunitis shielded her eyes from the sun as she marveled at the height of the tower from which she would soon be jumping. Her helmet and harness were tightened and checked for safety before she stepped off and zipped across the vast 500 acres of Mo Ranch, nestled along the Guadalupe River in Hunt, Texas. 

Zip lining, ropes course, and rock climbing were just a few of the things that students experienced at the ranch that was the site of the SkillsUSA Texas Leadership Conference. Yunitis represented Copperas Cove High School at the 4-day training where she was elected SkillsUSA District 10 parliamentarian. 

Yunitis was required to completely disconnect from her phone and social media and focus on improving herself and her relationships with others. 

“There were no breaks within the schedule. We were constantly working from 7:15 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day with no phones or service,” Yunitis said. “We learned about setting reasonable and achievable goals for ourselves which is important for self-improvement. We started out with time management and scheduling, writing down how many hours a week we use sleeping, studying, working, in the car, changing clothes, eating, and then on social media, and hanging out with friends. Most of us realized we spend way more time out with friends and on social media than sleeping and studying. So, we focused on how we could use our time more effectively and to be more productive. We then made better schedules for ourselves to follow in the next school year.”

Yunities said one of her most memorable training sessions was about etiquette where she learned table manners and how to prepare a formal table setting. Students also learned about public speaking, projecting their voices when addressing others, and how to properly portray themselves on social media.

“I learned companies will research you and who you are to make sure you are the best fit for the position,” Yunitis said. “This session went right into conflict resolution and I learned that I would rather compromise and come to a middle ground with everyone when problem-solving an issue.”

CCHS SkillsUSA adviser Joe Crosby said the most significant takeaway from the leadership conference was simply witnessing the joy stimulated in a student just beginning to embark on her life as an adult while discovering her unique talent. 

“Across the conference, students came alive both in their personal being and in their engagement with their peers in a manner I have not witnessed on campus,” Crosby said. “The unique opportunity to collaborate with similarly motivated students with similar aptitudes and a singular collective vision towards bettering themselves and their communities is something that I hope more students from CCHS may be awakened and inspired to do.”

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