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Posted on Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Regional Career Technical Center students win big at regional competition

By Erica Hobbs -  RCTC Competition.jpeg

Students from the Ypsilanti-based Regional Career Technical Center competed in the regional SkillsUSA Michigan competition, qualifying for five spots at the state competition. Front row, from left to right: Michael Bustemante, Sean Meixner, Heather Brewer. Back row, from left to right: Kayla Wiedbusch, Patrick Henry, Trevor Farmer, Ryan Romanini, Jaylen Fuller.

Photo courtesy of Bill Burnette

Students from the Ypsilanti-based Regional Career Technical Center have taken five out of the six spots they competed for in their regional vocational skills competition, and Director Bill Burnette has the pink hair to show for it.

Burnette, who also teaches the center’s auto collision repair program, bet his students they could dye his hair any color they chose if they took five out of the six state-qualifying positions during the recent SkillsUSA Michigan competition held at Washtenaw Community College.

“I thought they’d win three or four and be competitive, but when they won five spots it was tremendous,” he said.

The national competition allows students from vocational schools across the country to compete against each other in a range of categories, from culinary arts to masonry to early childhood education. Burnette’s eight students competed in two categories, collision repair technology and automotive refinishing technology, with four students competing individually in each category. Seventeen students from three schools competed in total at the competition with the first, second and third place winners continuing on to the state competition in April. - Bill Burnette Pink Hair.jpeg

Regional Career Technical Center Director Bill Burnette let his students dye his hair pink after qualifying for five places in a statewide vocational skills competition.

Photo courtesy of Bill Burnette

Dominating both of their competitions, RCTC took every place for the collision repair technology competition and two out of the three spots for the automotive refinishing technology competition. Sean Meixner, Ryan Romanini and Michael Bustemante took first, second and third place, respectively, in the collision repair category. Trevor Farmer and Kayla Wiedbusch took first and third, respectively, in the automotive refinishing category.

“I didn’t expect to win and it just kind of happened,” Meixner, a 16-year-old junior for Ypsilanti said.

Farmer, also a 16-year-old junior for Ypsilanti, said he too was surprised at his win.

“When they called my name, I was the fifth person (to win),” he said “That was awesome.”

Farmer said he and his teammates spent months getting ready for the competition. “(We were) just going over, spraying paint and just doing everything we can just to prepare,” he said. “Mr. Burnette is a good teacher. He did a lot to prepare us to go a long way.”

In collision repair technology, students are tested on their skills in metal straightening, welding, plastic repair and structural analysis. The automotive refinishing technology category tests students on their skills in surface preparation, spray gun operating, paint mixing, matching and applying, solving paint application problems, determining finish defects, causes and cures and utilizing safety precautions. Both categories test students on business skills, including writing an estimate.

Now, students are preparing for the statewide competition to be held from April 19-21 in Grand Rapids. First place winners there then compete on a national level.

In his 20 years attending the competition, Burnette said the RCTC has won 13 medals, including two state title-winning classes that finished seventh and 21st nationally.

As he waits for his hair to change back, Burnette said he’s excited for the next competition and hopeful for another state win. In the meantime, he has his hair to remind him of his students’ success.

“It’s going to be pink for about a week,” he said. “They used as permanent a dye as they could get, and it’s not fading as fast as I thought it would. It’s pretty darn pink.”


Eg Eg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

It's so nice to hear something good in regards to Ypsi......and that there are females in these male-dominated classes is awesome. Great job students!!!!


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Congratulations and best wishes in all of your future endeavors. Keep it rolling.

Robert E Oliver

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:06 a.m.

Great job Bill and all the students. More proof of the greatness of the Public School System and three school districts working together.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

What an amazing accomplishment for these students and their wonderful teacher! The RCTC program is a valuable asset to the Ypsilanti school district! The students in these programs are learning valuable skills for their future! So glad there are programs like this.

Sharon Irvine

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

Way to go, RCTC! Bill's passion for Career and Technical Education has made such a difference in the lives of so many students. YPS is PROUD!

Gyll Stanford

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

Great Job everyone involved. This kind of skilled training for the next generation is what is needed in the schools. Not every student is going to college, many by their own choice. They still need training for a productive future. This and the building trades program need to be expanded and promoted as a viable career path. Without these programs, in ten or twenty years from now who will be fixing your house or car?


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

Congratulations Sean, Micheal and the rest of the RCTC class on a job well done.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Great job,people. You too,Pinkie

say it plain

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Congratulations to these students and teacher for their achievement and hard work! Maybe the auto-refinishing team can add some racing stripes to their hair-design if they take some prizes in the next competition ;-)