MiLL students compete in SkillsUSA, MiLL adds welding
By Katie Stearns
September 10, 2019 | 3:35 pm CDT
Ashley Taylor placed 27th in the cabinet making competition.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- This summer was a really busy and exciting time for The MiLL staff. Much of the time was spent making improvements to the building and travelling for The MiLL staff.

The MiLL is adding a welding program; it is targeted to start the second semester of this year, in early January. The current welding classes at Widefield High School are moving to The MiLL for advanced level classes. The MiLL lathe lab, sponsored by Easy Wood tools, has moved to another area of the shop to accommodate this addition.

The cabinet manufacturing program moved some tools around to increase efficiency and workflow for students and staff. With the increased number of students this year, an additional Sawstop table saw and JDS Multirouter were added to help alleviate student backup on tools.

Devin Haller placed 31st in the electrical competition.


In June, staff and qualifying students travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. Three students from The MiLL qualified for the national competition by placing first at the state competition in Colorado. Jace Leimkuhl placed 17th in the plumbing competition. Devin Haller placed 31st in the electrical competition. Ashley Taylor placed 27th in the cabinet making competition. This was the first national competition for all three students. Taylor was one of only two high school age girls to compete in the cabinet making competition.

Some familiar faces were running the cabinetmaking competition. Scott Nelson, president of the WCA and Kent Gilchrist, on the board of directors for the WCA, were helping run the competition of High School and Post-Secondary students.

Doug Hague, education director for AWI, explained the project to competitors. The National competition project was a challenging notched door cabinet. Students had eight hours on the competition day to complete the project. Scott and Kent told us that WCA schools placed better overall than students from schools that don’t participate in the WCA. The high school group on average placed better than the post-secondary.

Jace Leimkuhl placed 17th in the plumbing competition.

Ashley was very excited to compete and proud of how she did in her first national competition. She is planning on applying for SkillsUSA Colorado leadership and competing this coming school year for a chance to go back to Louisville in June 2020. The week was full of activities in Louisville along with the competition. The students and staff enjoyed a couple of hours at Kentucky Kingdom theme park next to the convention center, and an evening at the Louisville Bats 3A baseball game.

The MiLL team traveled to Las Vegas for AWFS in July. The MiLL had a booth at the show, run by instructors Chet Miller, David Davis, and Patrick White, giving them the ability to share the MiLL High School Curriculum with teachers and business leaders around the country. Teachers and staff spent their time in education sessions, meeting potential partners and working the booth.

David Davis, full-time instructor at The MiLL, learned a lot from the AWI session on their updated standards. The session on “Pricing and Planning for Future Expenses” changed the way he thought about teaching upper level students about estimating and pricing projects.

John Stearns, Lead Instructor at The MiLL, presented three sessions in the teacher track of the CWWK (College of Woodworking Knowledge). He presented a classroom shop safety seminar with Mark Alster from Leitz tooling and Curt Corum from Air Handling Systems. The session taught 40 educators from across the country classroom safety, tooling safety and dust collection safety. Stearns also presented a session on funding a school program and a session on curriculum and resources.

There was an exciting outcome from AWFS this year. Timber Products out of Eugene, Oregon, came alongside The MiLL to help supply plywood needs for students. The MiLL received the first shipment of plywood just before school started this August, and the second shipment is arriving shortly. AWFS is always a great opportunity for The MiLL team to connect with existing partners and to look for new ways to expand.

Driving up to The MiLL is much easier now, thanks to paving improvements along Foreign Trade Zone Blvd., the main road to the MiLL. No more dodging deep potholes on your drive in. The parking lot at The MiLL is brand new as well, thanks to the school districts contribution to strip the crumbling asphalt, repave and repaint the parking lot. See

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