Manatee students shine at summer competitions

Southeast High School students who competed in the broadcast news competition pose for a photo.
Southeast High School students who competed in the broadcast news competition pose for a photo. PHOTO PROVIDED

Despite school being out of session, Manatee County students are busy racking up awards at various national competitions.

In the past two weeks, results of the technology-based TSA National Conference, the all-encompassing National SkillsUSA Championship and the health-oriented HOSA competitions ranked Manatee County competitors highly in a number of areas.

Braden River students may have created a new record for the number of medals awarded to one single high school at the TSA National Conference in Nashville. For the past six out of seven years, students at Southeast High School won the first-place prize in the broadcast news category, and a trio of King Middle School students took home a gold medal in Health Education at the Health Occupation Students Association International Leadership Conference in Nashville.

“It’s always exciting to see our students competing and performing well in national and international competitions,” Superintendent Diana Greene said in a statement after the HOSA awards were announced. “These awards are the results of an extraordinary amount of hard work by the students and teachers and incredible support from parents, coaches and our schools. I congratulate everyone who participated.”


Formally called the Technology Student Association, and now simply known as TSA, the national competition is a staple for many Manatee County schools.

Braden River High School had a particularly strong showing, with adviser Gil Burlew saying the high school may have set a record for the number of medals the school received this year. Teams or individuals from Braden River earned 26 Top 10 prizes and 15 of those ranked either first, second or third place, according to results on the TSA website.

“It’s just a great group of kids,” Burlew said.

Other Manatee County Schools, including Braden River Middle, Haile Middle, Johnson Middle, Nolan Middle, Southeast High, Palmetto High, Lakewood Ranch High and Manatee High, all competed as well.

In the manufacturing prototype competition, Manatee schools swept the top three spots, with Braden River claiming first place, Manatee placing second and Southeast coming in third.


A competition that “promotes excellence, implacability skills and ethics to students in career and technical education to better prepare them for successful careers,” SkillsUSA is the largest career and technical student organization in the country.

For six of the seven last years, a team of students from Southeast High School has taken home the top prize in the broadcast news division, under director of Mike Sanders. This year was no different. Sofia Aztrodt, Johnny Cromwell, Alexis Federico and Naomi Rafi are the newest Southeast students to join the ranks.

Manatee Technical College students brought home seven gold medals, five silver and 12 bronze from competition as well.


Five schools from Manatee County that took part in the competitive events at the annual HOSA conference, including Lakewood Ranch High School, Manatee High School, King Middle School, Nolan Middle School and Manatee Technical College.

In addition to the first-place finish by the King students, Nolan Middle School’s Ariel Gates earned a Top 10 in Experience Health Poster and Gabrielle Vasquez-Cruz won a Top 10 in Medical Terminology.

In the Post-secondary Collegiate Division, Manatee Technical College’s Amy Congilaro took home third place in Medical Assisting.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney