Choctaw Plaindealer

Banks Represents CCHS and State in Washington, D.C.

From School Reports

Mississippi SkillsUSA state officers traveled to Washington, D.C., on September 23-27 to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute conference (WLTI). WLTI offers students and advisors from across the country the opportunity to advocate for the skilled trades and receive advanced leadership training.

Attending WLTI were Journee Banks, the Mississippi SkillsUSA president (Choctaw County Career and Technology Center) and Blake Bonds, the Mississippi SkillsUSA parliamentarian (Franklin County Career and Technical Center).  WLTI events included tours of D.C.’s famous monuments and museums, panel discussions with government officials, a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and more.

The highlight of the event was in-person visits on Capitol Hill to advocate for SkillsUSA and career and technical education. Banks and Bonds, along with MS SkillsUSA advisors Kristie Jones (Franklin County/carpentry) and Cory Wallace (Franklin County/welding), met with Representative Michael Guest’s Legislative Assistant Milton Robinson, Senator Roger Wicker’s Legislative Assistant Katy Roberts, and with Senator Cindy-Hyde Smith to discuss key issues and concerns in career and technical education funding in Mississippi public schools. 

As part of WLTI, Banks, Bonds, Jones, and Wallace all earned the following national certifications: SkillsUSA Framework Certification, CTE Knowledge Certification, and Communicating with Authenticity and Integrity in Informal Situations. In addition, Banks continued her designation as a National Statesman, an honor only acquired through rigorous pre-work assignments and interview processes. 

During opening ceremonies of WLTI, Bonds was recognized as one of only four students in the nation to receive the Robert Flint Leadership Development Scholarship, which recognizes students who have strong leadership potential. This scholarship helped support Bonds’ travel expenses to WLTI.

Both Banks and Bonds agree that WLTI has been an empowering experience in developing their leadership skills.