Rhinebeck High School Students Earn State Recognition for Vocational Skills

Two Rhinebeck High School students from the Dutchess BOCES Career and Technical  Institute were awarded medals at The New York State SkillsUSA competition in Syracuse for demonstrating excellence in the fields of culinary arts and criminal justice.

More than 3,000 students from across the state competed in 99 career, trade, technical, and leadership skill areas on April 24.

Nicholas Vaccaro took top honors as the first place culinary arts student in New York State and will now represent New York at the National SkillsUSA competition scheduled for June 23­-27 in Kansas City, Mo.

Ryan Cimorelli earned a second-place finish in the criminal justice area.

“Having my name called as a winner and seeing 3,000 people cheering while I stood on stage was a life-changing experience,” said Cimorelli.

“The competition was intense, but very satisfying,” added Vaccaro. “I loved it.”

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry members working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. The professional society includes more than 250,000  students and  13,000 teachers as members. Its mission is to empower members to become world-­class workers, leaders, and responsible citizens

The win for Vaccaro represents the second year in a row that a CTI student has taken home the top honor in high school student culinary arts. Last year’s winner, Kerry McKeon of Hyde Park, is now a student at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

“The competition is awesome,” said Chef Dan Tierney, culinary arts instructor. “The focus, the skill, the effort on display is amazing, and I don’t use that word lightly.”

Vaccaro and Cimorelli are seniors at Rhinebeck High School. Vaccaro plans to attend the CIA in the fall. His first place finish at SkillsUSA has earned him a $12,000 scholarship for the CIA.

Cimorelli is interested in pursuing a career in the military and credits his win to his criminal justice class work at CTI and his  work as a volunteer firefighter.


“We send dedicated and committed students to compete,” said Michael Kelly, criminal justice instructor and SkillsUSA advisor. “They show they want to achieve that level of excellence and that makes them champions.”


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