Manatee County: Home to Florida’s — and possibly the nation’s — best career and technical education program.
Students from 13 Manatee County schools competed against students from across the state in the Technology Student Association State Conference in Orlando this weekend. With more than 1,600 students competing in 73 competitive events for a total possible 219 trophies, Manatee students brought home 119 trophies.
Just to be clear: 219 trophies were awarded, and 119 of them went to students from Manatee.
Most districts have four (trophies), and they make a big deal and go before the school board with all four trophies, and that's awesome and we're happy for them. But we got 119.
Doug Wagner, the district’s director of adult, career and technical education
“Most districts have four (trophies), and they make a big deal and go before the school board with all four trophies, and that's awesome and we're happy for them,” said Doug Wagner, the district’s director of adult, career and technical education. “But we got 119.”
It goes without saying that Manatee set the record for the number of trophies won, but with 367 students competing the district brought more students than any other district in the state.
Haile Middle School won the most trophies of any middle school, and Braden River High School took home the most hardware of any high school.
Haile Middle School sponsor Maureen Hudson attributed Manatee County’s success at TSA competitions to two things: Wagner’s support of the program and student perspiration.
“It's months and months and months of work,” said Haile Middle School sponsor Maureen Hudson. “There are teams that might have more resources, more money, might be smarter than us, but nobody outworks us.”
Jordan Brown, 14, is the president of the Haile team and helped build life-size versions of Connect 4, Chess and Checkers that will be used by the school’s students with autism. She confirmed that the after-school hours were key to their success.
“We'll be here all hours of the day and the night,” Brown said.
Students from Bayshore High, Braden River High, Lakewood Ranch High, Manatee High, Palmetto High, Southeast High, Braden River Middle, Buffalo Creek Middle, Haile Middle, Johnson Middle, Lee Middle, Nolan Middle, and Sugg Middle competed in the event.