Like many recent high school graduates, Ryan Graham used the summer before his first semester of college to log hours at a part-time job, spend time with friends and embark on a few adventures.
In Graham’s case, the Ardmore High School alum also took a few days to compete in his first SkillsUSA national competition in Kansas City, Mo., where he became the second straight student from the Limestone County Career Technical Center to win the silver medal in computer maintenance technology. Skyler Verworren placed second in the same category in 2012, and was among seven CTC students to finish in the top 20.
Three other CTC students also competed at nationals, including Athens Bible’s Douglas Fields in cabinetmaking, Tanner High School’s John McKinney in carpentry and Elkmont High School’s Morgan Garris in public speaking.
Graham, an unassuming and deliberate 18-year-old with an uncanny resemblance to Zac Efron, described himself as a computer nerd with varied interests — painting, playing guitar, weightlifting and Kentucky basketball — during a visit to the CTC campus last week.
“I was floored when they announced the national results because I didn’t think I did well in the competition. The competition was very difficult so I couldn’t believe I had placed in the top 20,” said Graham, who began attending the CTC as a sophomore and won a state silver medal as a junior.
He preferred to give credit for his national medal to his SkillsUSA chapter adviser, information technology instructor Ted James, his buddy Skyler and former CTC student Chris Kennedy.
“I can’t give much credit to myself because a large part goes to my teacher and a good bit goes to Skyler and other people for being a big help,” said Graham, who won a mini iPad for earning a gold medal in April at the SkillsUSA state contest. “Mr. James has a first-place winner from a few years back — Chris Kennedy — that puts on a very tough local competition. I saw a few of our problems in our local district competition at nationals.”