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Making the Grade

The noise of power hammers, saws and drills filled the cavernous exhibition hall as power equipment technicians, carpenters and cabinetmakers worked to complete their projects. Nearby, exactly 50 masons-to-be quietly slung their mud; laid their block and brick; and tried to tap, tap, tap them into perfect position. For up to six hours, each contestant in the national masonry championships strove to build the best composite project out of 139 brick, perfectly placed according to plans, on a concrete block base.

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Front row, left to right: Kimberly Kahl, Arizona Masonry Contractors Association; Jared Braveboy, Lake City High School, Lake City, S.C.; Joshua L. Kimrey, Mount Pleasant High School, Mount Pleasant, N.C.; Travis Smith, Northeast Technology Center, Beloit, Kansas; and Al Herndon, Florida Masonry Apprentice and Education Foundation. Back row, left to right: Bryan Light, chairman of the Masonry Technical Committee; Heath Drye, Mount Pleasant High School, Mount Pleasant, N.C.; Austin Rising, North Central Technology Center, Beloit, Kansas; Brandon Campanaro, The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.; and Harry Junk, National Concrete Masonry Association.

The contest was part of the 42nd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo., on June 22. The following evening, the awards ceremony was held at Kemper Arena in front of a crowd estimated at more than 15,000.

The 2006 winner of the post-secondary competition was Austin Rising from North Central Kansas Tech Center in Beloit, Kansas. The 2006 winner of the high school competition was Joshua L. Kimrey from Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant, N.C.

Student interest in masonry vocational training continues to be strong. This year, 32 high school and 18 post-secondary contestants from 35 states competed. The students were winners of their own state or regional event.

In Kansas City, they competed against the clock and against themselves to demonstrate their expertise in this ancient profession. The contest consisted of a written test and the construction of a brick and block composite project. The project was designed to test the skills needed for successful entry into the profession.

Trade professionals from Bricklayers Local #15 and selected vocational instructors judged the projects by taking extensive measurements, measuring plumb at six locations, and judging finishing techniques and overall appearance.

Technical Committee Chairman Bryan Light of Brick SouthEast, a Brick Industry Association affiliate, said, "Industry support for this annual trade competition remains as it should be: fantastic."

The Masonry Technical Committee's other sustaining members and sponsors of the contest included the Mason Contractors Association of America, Arizona Masonry Contractors Association, Bon Tool Co., Brick Industry Association, Hanley-Wood LLC, Marshalltown Co., Masonry Institute of Tennessee, National Concrete Masonry Association, Portland Cement Association and Spec Mix.

Through the efforts of the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), this year's 50 contestants were supported in their efforts by donations of mortar from Spec Mix, brick from Endicott Brick and block from Midwest Block & Brick. Spec Mix employees from around the country were "slingin' their mud" throughout the day in support of the aspiring masons. Other organizations supporting the contest included Calculated Industries, Carhartt Inc., Hanley-Wood LLC and Marshalltown Trowel Co.

Other highlights of the three-day conclave included a field trip to a local block plant arranged by NCMA representative Harry Junk. This was followed by a luncheon in honor of the contestants and their instructors. At the luncheon, Jerry Painter of Painter Masonry, Gainesville, Fla., spoke to the contestants, enthusiastically describing his pride in being a "bricklayer."

During the SkillsUSA event, more than 4,700 outstanding career and technical students competed in 84 different trade, technical and leadership competitions. The contestants effectively demonstrated their expertise in the occupational skills required for such trades as electronics, technical drafting, precision machining, carpentry and masonry.

The SkillsUSA organization represents 284,000 students and instructors in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The event is booked in Kansas City through 2014.

To learn more about the Masonry Technical Committee, contact Bryan Light at (770) 760-0728. To learn more about SkillsUSA, please visit www.SkillsUSA.org.

2006 National Masonry Contest Winners


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Austin Rising
First Place
Austin Rising
North Central Technology Center,
Afton, Okla.
 
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Heath W. Drye
Second Place
Heath W. Drye
Mount Pleasant High School,
Mount Pleasant, N.C.
 
Third Place
Brandon Campanaro
The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.
 


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Joshua L. Kimrey
First Place
Joshua L. Kimrey
Mount Pleasant High School,
Mount Pleasant, N.C.
 
New Products for Masonry Contractors
Jared Braveboy
Second Place
Jared Braveboy
Lake City High School, Lake City, S.C.
 
Third Place
Travis Smith
Northeast Technology Center,
Beloit, Kansas






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