Recognition of one girl’s academic success can be seen by those entering Donovan, IL.
Last April, Keeley Smith earned gold in the 2018 SkillsUSA competition. She’s the state champion in the vocational competition’s collision repair category. There’s a green sign at both the north and south entrance of the town along Route 52.
Smith, 18, was honored with a small surprise presentation at her alma mater the morning of Dec. 27, 2018. Her family and friends were there to support her when Donovan District 3 Superintendent Steve Westrick, Kankakee Area Career Center Director Matt Kelley and her former collision repair instructor Chris Moore showed her the sign.
“It’s crazy,” she said of the honor.
At the competition, she couldn’t believe her name was called as the first-place winner.
“I couldn’t stop shaking,” she said.
She went on to the national competition and didn’t fare as well.
“There are some really talented people there. There’s still a lot I need to learn,” she said.
Westrick said this is something deserving of recognition. Such signs are usually devoted to successes on a sports field.
“Kids are going to have more success in life outside of sports. This young lady is an example of hard work and dedication, with a supportive family,” Westrick said. “We want our kids to have all the opportunities they can have. She’ll have these skills for the rest of her life.”
The collision repair course at the career center goes over such things as metal work, welding, body work, metal repair, bumper repair, structural analysis and estimating.
In Moore’s 13 years of teaching, he said he’s taught more than 20 girls in the classes. Smith does stand out.
He noted Smith has a great amount of support from her family, which has lent itself to her success.
With this competition, he said, “She really put in a lot of work. And she always follows through.”
“She’s a stand-out student who’s always willing to help. She shows up and gets the job done,” said Kelley. At the career center, she met the criteria to earn a place in the National Technical Honor Society.