For the second consecutive year, La Porte High School senior Kolten Dunkerson emerged as the state champion in auto refinishing at the Texas SkillsUSA competition.
Kolten was among the first-place winners from district contests throughout the state who competed in Corpus Christi March 31 through April 2.
Kolten, the student of Valentin Trevino, will now advance to the national competition in Kansas City, Missouri, in June. He is the son of Randy and Becky Dunkerson.
Trevino, who also is a product of La Porte High School, explained that Kolten's performance at the state contest was outstanding in the face of "really tough competition."
"He did everything he possibly could," Trevino said, noting that Kolten was well prepared for the competitions in nine different categories. "He has worked so hard."
Kolten earned fourth place at nationals in June 2010 after winning the district and state competitions. Last year, he competed in the Year 2 contest even though he was in only his first year of instruction.
The path to the 2011 national contest for Kolten began shortly after he returned home from Kansas City last year. Under the guidance of Trevino, he spent much of July and August at the school, honing his skills to prepare for this year's competitions.
In just his third year of taking students to SkillsUSA competitions, Trevino will return to Kansas City for the third time. LPHS graduate Brett Kelly won first at both district and state during the 2008-09 school year and placed 27th in the national competition.
While Trevino is duly proud of Kolten and his accomplishments, he added that he is proud of all of his students, who have set a high standard for excellence. LPHS students swept the awards at the SkillsUSA District 8 competition on Feb. 11 at San Jacinto College South. Kolten, as the winner in the Year 2 contest, and Dalia Mendiola, who won first place in the Year 1 competition, were then eligible to compete in the state contest.
"It's definitely a group effort, and Kolten is a great leader to follow," he said. Trevino said that the other students look up to Kolten, and he is mentoring some of the students now enrolled in the Year 1 program.
"This is another in a string of incredible accomplishments from Val Trevino and his auto refinishing program," said David Knowles, La Porte ISD executive director of secondary education. "We are very proud of Val, Kolten and all the collision and refinishing students who keep pushing the performance bar higher and higher. We wish them all the best at nationals."
With another state win added to his list of accomplishments, Kolten has earned a total of $22,000 in scholarships to Universal Technical Institute in Houston. He plans to expand on his skills in auto refinishing by taking classes in the auto technician program at UTI.