AJ Smith (left) and Emily Bowen (right)

Sanford Regional Technical Center juniors AJ Smith and Emily Bowen admitted they were surprised when they saw their names flash on the screen during the awards ceremony at the March Maine SkillsUSA competition at the Bangor Cross Insurance Center.

Smith and Bowen, both from Noble High School and in the video production program at SRTC, teamed up to compete in the Audio/Radio Production contest at the two-day, statewide competition for students enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs. 

They figured winning would be challenging because they were juniors, and it was their first time at the competition.

"When our names came up on the screen, it kind of glitched and our names appeared before they announced it and I kind of screamed," Bowen said.

"We didn't think we would win, and it was just really cool to see it up on the screen," Smith said.

Smith and Bowen are two of the five SRTC students who have qualified for the SkillsUSA national competition in Atlanta in June. Smith and Bowen won the silver medal in the Audio/Radio Production contest. Still, they qualified for the national competition because the gold medal winners in the contest declined to go to nationals. Nationals are from June 19-23. 

Two weeks before the state competition, Smith and Bowen received a prompt to make a small podcast from Video Production teacher James Harmon. They had to interview two people for the podcast, edit the episode using Adobe premiere pro, and produce two commercials. 

"When we did the local contest to get to states, we actually had a lot of fun doing our podcast," Smith said.

"We have a sound booth in our room, and Mr. Harmon taught us how to use the microphones and everything like that, so we used that knowledge to build the podcast," Bowen said. 

Before starting in the video production program at SRTC, neither Smith nor Bowen had thought of getting they'd be cutting up podcasts and competing at statewide competitions. Both said they started getting interested in watching television and wanting to know what happened behind the scenes.

Now, with the opportunity to compete at the national level, they have hopes to finish high in their contest. But aside from competing, they also look forward to traveling out-of-sate with their friends and teachers.

"Just to go to Georgia," Bowen said. "That would be so cool.

The Sanford Schools Legacy Foundation is now accepting donations on behalf of the students to help offset their travel expenses. 

You can make a tax-deductable donation via our website here, look for the "SkillsUSA" dropdown from the menu.