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November 2008

Making the Grade

Bradley Wright returned to the SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest this past summer with one goal in mind: to win. As a junior at the Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Wright finished third in the secondary division. At this year's contest, he earned first-place honors.

After three years in his secondary school's masonry program, Wright has enrolled for additional technical masonry training at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., with one goal in mind.

"I want my instructor's job!" Wright says. "That's what I'd really like to do."

Wright says his instructor at Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Charles A. West, knows of his plans. While others have talked to West about having the same career, Wright says he is trying to follow through with training and experience.

"That's why I'm preparing the way I am," Wright says. "I've got to build my resume with all the appropriate training. Then I'll work for awhile for a masonry contracting company. When Mr. West is ready to retire, I'll be ready to apply for his position."

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Bradley Wright plans to one day become a masonry instructor.

As a 27-year instructor, West has impressive credentials. Since 2002, he has sponsored six participants in the National Masonry Contest. Two students earned first place, two earned second place and Wright finished third in the 2007 contest.

"My boss has his eyes on [Wright]," West says. "I have three or four former students who could apply. I guess a lot depends on when I retire!"

During an open house visit to the Earnest Pruett Center of Technology prior to his sophomore year in high school, Wright's mother encouraged him to choose the electrical program.

"Mr. West convinced me that he really wanted me in his masonry program," says Wright. "And, the more brick I laid, the better I got. The better I got, the more I liked it."

In addition to his schooling, Wright works masonry jobs on the side. "Classes are four days a week, so our three-day weekends give me a chance to pick up some small jobs like steps, walls and columns," Wright explains. "Nothing big right now.

"If I ever get a chance become an instructor myself," Wright adds, "I'll rely a lot on what Mr. West taught me. He pushed me. He was never satisfied. He told me I could always do better. I'm a better mason because of Mr. West."

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