Colby Matthys always said he wanted to be a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. His experience in the SkillsUSA Championships this past summer might have changed the plans.
Now a senior at Platte County High School and Northland Career Center, Matthys teamed with two students from other districts to win the Missouri SkillsUSA state title in crime scene investigation. The trio advanced on to nationals where they became NCC’s first-ever national champion.
“Winning this kind of threw this all up in the air. We’ll see how it goes,” Matthys said while addressing the Platte County R-3 Board of Education during its regular meeting Thursday, Aug. 24.
The competition was held this past June in Louisville, Ky.
According to the group, The SkillsUSA Championships are competitive events showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels.
There are thousands of contestants in more than 100 events at nationals with the philosophy of “rewarding students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student
performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.”
According to Matthys, officer Darrick Bruns — instructor of the law enforcement/crime scene investigation program at NCC since its inception in 2007 — wrote out goals for the team prior to last school year. That included winning a national championship.
Contestants in the CSI competition for SkillsUSA are directed to a mock crime scene and briefed. The three-person teams process the crime scene by legally searching for, properly collecting and removing evidence.
One member of the team will be required to lift a latent fingerprint from a pre-selected item of evidence. After the scene has been processed, the contestants write their report, draw the crime scene sketch and mark their evidence with a 30-minute time limit.
Professionals judge the work, and according to Bruns, the top teams are generally good enough to actually go out and work an actual crime scene.
Matthys served as NCC’s sketch artist. Jenna Abbott of Liberty High School and Marena Draskovich from Winnetonka High School rounded out NCC’s team.
According to Matthys, Abbott typed out her three-page report in just 15 minutes.
“We were flying,” Matthys said.
With Abbott and Draskovich graduated, Matthys wants to find new team members as he continues to figure out his career path. And the goals won’t change.
“This year, we went back and it said, ‘Win nationals — again,’ so that’s the plan,” Matthys said.
The board of education also recognized the scholastic achievements of two Platte County seniors who recently scored a perfect 36 on their ACT.
According to Platte County High School principal Dr. Chad Sayre, just more than 1/10th of a percent of all high school students accomplished that last year. Platte County’s Grant Dixon and Spencer Klopfer joined that elite company by earning the highest possible score.
“I’ve heard of one at a high school, but I’ve never heard of two,” Sayre said about conversations over the years with other Missouri principals.
Dixon is the son of Melissa and David Dixon. He first took the ACT exam when he was in seventh grade and took it a few more times before scoring his 36 on the statewide junior ACT exam in April of 2017.
Planning to attend Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo. and major in computer science, Dixon currently participates in the technology solution strand of Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Northland CAPS) as an “associate” at Cerner through this program.
Klopfer is the son of Lori and Rudy Klopfer. He recalls scoring a 31, a 32, then a 33, before also scoring perfectly during the statewide junior ACT exam in April.
To better his score, Klopfer worked with English teacher Marnie Jenkins before the test.
“Math is my strongest subject, English is my weak spot, but history is my favorite,” Klopfer said.
Klopfer is a student-athlete (soccer/tennis) and serves on the high school’s Character Council while also being a member of Interact Club and National Honor Society. He plans to study either law or actuarial science in data/statistics after graduating high school with sights set on either Duke or BYU.
“I’d like to combine my love for sports or politics with my strengths in math in some way,” Klopfer said.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1 to 36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores.