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Making the Grade

Contributing members of the masonry industry participated recently in the 40th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference held in Kansas City, Mo., June 23-25.

The National Masonry Contest, held in conjunction with the SkillsUSA conference, was supported by masonry industry contributions and representation from across the United States. Committee Chairman Bryan Light of the Southern Brick Institute reported greater industry support than ever before for this annual trade competition.

Forty-seven high school and post-secondary contestants from 34 different states, each of them winners of their own state or regional event, competed by completing a written test and then building brick and block composite projects judged, in part, by trade professionals from Bricklayers Local #15.

The winner of the post-secondary competition was Cody Alward, 19, from Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant, N.C. The high school winner was Terry Miller, 17, from Earnest Pruett Center of Technology in Hollywood, Ala. This was Miller's third national contest. As a sophomore, he finished seventh. Last year he earned a second-place medal. This year, he came back determined to take the grand prize, and take it he did!

Alward, Miller and the other contestants were supported in their efforts by donations of materials from SPEC MIX, Kansas City Brick and Midwest Block & Brick. SPEC MIX staff from around the country were "slingin' mud" throughout the day in support of the aspiring masons.

Sustaining members and sponsors of the contest included Bon Ton Tool Co., Brick Industry Association, Hanley-Wood, Marshalltown Trowel Co., National Concrete Masonry Association, Portland Cement Association and SPEC MIX.

This year, Light gave special recognition to his Education Team, a group of instructors who assist in setting up, conducting and the judging the contest. "Billy Madkins, Charles McDaniel, Edward Mims, Todd Larsen and Jack Wentz literally spend the week here with me," Light says. "I would be hard-pressed without their help."

Other highlights of the three-day conclave included a luncheon in honor of the contestants and their instructors. At the luncheon, Bill Kjorlien of the Southern Brick Institute and former Chair of the Technical Committee pointed out the value of working in a trade, "where you can take your trade anywhere and always have the satisfaction of having a visible representation of your work... every day."

Bob Melton, Executive Director of the Masonry Institute of Tennessee, spoke to the young masons, congratulating them on their accomplishment of reaching the national contest and encouraging them to "do your best."

Over 4,500 outstanding vocational students, all state champions, competed in more than 90 different SkillsUSA trade, technical and leadership competitions. The contestants effectively demonstrated their expertise in the occupational skills required for such trades as masonry, electronics, technical drafting and more.

39th Annual National Masonry Contest Winners

First Place - Cody Alward, Mount Pleasant High School, Mount Pleasant, N.C.

Second Place - Paul Shuey, The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.

Third Place - J. Cruz Cervantes, PTEC St. Petersburg Campus, St. Petersburg, Fla.

First Place - Terry Miller, Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Hollywood, Ala.

Second Place - Dallas Caudle, Central Cabarrus High School, Concord, N.C.

Third Place - Alvaro Gutierrez, Lexington Technology Center, Lexington, S.C.







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