Headmaster’s Newsletter

Eve Codling Wins Gold in Commercial Baking at National SkillsUSA

July 13, 2021

St. Johnsbury Academy’s Eve Codling of Bath, NH, has won a National SkillsUSA Gold Medal in Commercial Baking. Eve is the fifth Academy student to earn the Commercial Baking top prize and the 12th Academy student to win a medal (five gold, six silver, and one bronze) in the event.


Eve graduated on June 7 and then competed on June 9 against 23 other students in the Commercial Baking event. As the gold medalist, she also won a full-tuition scholarship for her post-secondary education at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.


As a junior, Eve started practicing for the Vermont Skills USA Commercial Baking competition in the fall of 2019 with her eye on the state competition to be held in the spring of 2020. COVID canceled everything three weeks before the event.  


Once school resumed in the fall, Eve refocused and began preparing for the 2021 competition. Her motivation to succeed was evident as she spent well over 200 hours practicing after school, on weekends, and during school vacations in her quest to win the Vermont and National competitions. 


Like so many events, the SkillsUSA state and national competitions were virtual this year, with students working in their school’s kitchens while recording every move. Each competitor had to perform skills for four products at the state level and skills for seven products at the national level.  The national competition requirements were: three shapes of bread-braided loaf (pain de epi, French bread, cream puffs and eclairs); chocolate chip cookies; creme patisserie; knife cuts of onions, peppers, and garlic to be used in jalapeño corn muffins; and a decorated cake.


The competitors also had to complete a 100 question written test.


Preparing students for state and national SkillsUSA competitions is always a team event. This year required additional help to capture all of the videos and make sure the process went smoothly. SJA’s Director of Technical Integration Liz Laverty filmed the national event and created each of the YouTube videos required to satisfy each of the requirements. Career and Technical Education Department Secretary Deb Newland helped proctor the event and assisted with the filming and photos.


Paula Bystrzycki, Eve’s Culinary Arts teacher, said, “Eve’s level of motivation and dedication while learning and practicing for the Skills competitions are a true sign that she will find success in her future. Always positive and wanting to improve in all aspects of the journey to be able to gain a post-secondary education, Culinary Arts and SkillsUSA became a stepping stone in realizing her dream of going to Johnson and Wales. I am so proud of her and look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in her career.”


Headmaster Sharon Howell added, “This medal is a tribute both to Eve’s commitment and to the commitment of all the faculty and staff who contributed to her achievement—especially, of course, Chef Bystrzycki, who works with each student with her whole heart, and is completely invested in their success.  We will hope that Eve comes back from Johnson and Wales now and then to share her goodies!”


SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including healthcare. The organization’s programs also help establish industry standards for job skill training in the lab and classroom and promote community service.


In a typical year, the national SkillsUSA competition is held in Louisville, KY. More than 6,500 career and technical education students from across the U.S. compete in 103 different trade, technical and leadership events after winning gold medals in their respective states.


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