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August 2007

Making the Grade

Masonry industry companies and organizations joined together to support the 43rd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and the National Masonry Contest held in Kansas City, Mo., June 25 - 29, 2007.

For up to six hours, 48 young masons from 36 states competed at Bartle Hall. Each contestant, using block and brick and mortar, tried to construct the winning project by placing the masonry materials, according to plans, on a concrete block base.

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The winners of the 2007 National Masonry Contest took the stage at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.

The 2007 winner of the post-secondary competition was Michael Wagner from The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Media, Pa. Wagner's instructor is Daniel L. Hiltebeitel. The 2007 winner of the secondary (high school) competition was Marcus G. Hefner from West Stanley High School of Oakboro, N.C. Hefner's instructor is Timothy Kidd.

The masonry competitors were among more than 5,000 students who competed in 84 different career trade, technical and leadership fields. The contestants effectively demonstrated their expertise in the occupational skills required for such trades as masonry, electronics, technical drafting, precision machining, carpentry and plumbing.

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The red-jacketed winners of the secondary division in the front row are (l to r) Jared Braveboy, Marcus Hefner and Bradley V. Wright. The post-secondary division winners in the second row are (l to r) Travis Greenly, Michael Wagner and Christian Cruz. Members of the Masonry Technical Committee included (l to r) Kellie Hala, Marshalltown Company; Harry Junk, National Concrete Masonry Association; Bryan Light, Brick SouthEast and chair of the Masonry Technical Committee which organized the contest; Bill Kjorlien, masonry tech sales manager, Lafarge North America and former Technical Committee Chair; and Al Herndon, Florida Masonry Apprentice and Education Foundation.

During the final evening, the awards ceremony was held at Kemper Arena in front of a crowd of more than 15,000.

As supported by this annual event, student interest in masonry vocational training continues to be strong. This year, 31 high school and 17 post-secondary contestants competed in two divisions. To qualify, the students were winners, or designated second place finishers, of their own state contests.

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The floor of Bartle Hall as 48 masons constructed their composite projects in the National Masonry Contest.

Students competed against the clock and against themselves to demonstrate their expertise in this noble profession. The contest consisted of a written test and the construction of a brick and block composite project, which was designed by Bryan Light, technical services manager for Brick SouthEast and chairman of the National Masonry Contest Technical Committee. Both the written exam and skills project tested participants in the proficiency needed for successful entry into the masonry profession.

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Marcus Hefner, 18, West Stanley High School, Oakboro, N.C.
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Jared Braveboy, 17, Lake City High School, Lake City, S.C.
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Bradley Wright, 17, Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Hollywood, Ala.
Trade professionals from the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local #15 and selected vocational instructors judged the projects by taking extensive measurements, and judging finishing techniques and overall appearance.

Light was complimentary in his appreciation of the contest's supporters.

"The masonry industry's support of this competition remains fantastic," Light said. "Everyone understands the importance of technical training for the proper use of their products, each of which contributes to excellence in finished brick and block projects."

Members of the National Masonry Technical Committee and other sustaining members and sponsors of the contest include: the Mason Contractors Association of America; Bon Tool Co.; Brick Industry Association; Brick SouthEast Inc.; Hanley-Wood LLC; Marshalltown Co.; Masonry Institute of Tennessee; National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA); Portland Cement Association; Spec Mix; and Wasco Inc.

Through the efforts of the NCMA, this year's contestants were supported by donations of mortar from Spec Mix, brick from Yankee Hill Brick & Tile, and block from Midwest Block & Brick. The brick donation, as well as shipping, was coordinated again this year by Kansas City Brick. Spec Mix employees were "slingin' mud," donated in support of the aspiring masons. Other organizations supporting the contest included Calculated Industries and Carhartt Inc.

Additional highlights of the annual conclave included a field trip to a local block plant, arranged by NCMA representative Harry Junk. The tour was followed by a luncheon in honor of the contestants and their instructors.

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.

2007 National Brick Masonry Contest Winners

First Place
Michael G. Wagner
The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.

Second Place
Travis Greenly
Central Cabarrus High School, Concord, N.C.

Third Place
Christian C. Cruz
Alfred State College, SUNY College of Technology, Alfred, N.Y.

First Place
Marcus G. Hefner
West Stanley High School, Oakboro, N.C.

Second Place
Jared Braveboy
Lake City High School, Lake City, S.C.

Third Place
Bradley V. Wright
Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Hollywood, Ala.



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