Four seniors at Thomson High School won first place in the state at the Georgia SkillsUSA competition and are on their way to Kansas City for the national competition.
Scott McClure, Cory Benson, Kennedy Cowart and Rick Keister are all students in Barry Arrington's construction/electro-mechanical vocational class.
The four competed in the Teamworks contest at the end of April, which required the students to work together to analyze drawings for a residential construction project, write and present an action plan and build the 3'x5' structure, demonstrating their skills in carpentry, plumbing, electricity and masonry.
"The competition was fun," Cory said. "It was not really a challenge, though."
The team spent the first day of the two-day competition laying the block foundation and pre-cutting all the wood for the project. The second day consisted of assembling the building, installing the plumbing and wiring the electricity. The second day also presented them with their biggest challenge when they had to lay the floor joists.
Mr. Arrington said the competition includes something new each year to test the students' problem-solving and adaptability skills.
"The metal floor joists were our curve ball this year," he said. "They had never worked with metal joists before."
The team scored well in spite of the curve ball. With a 96 out of a possible 100, the THS team had the highest score in the history of the competition. According to the SkillsUSA website, other areas of judging included cleanliness of the jobsite, timeliness of completing the project, and proper ordering and inventory of tools and equipment.
Another student, sophomore Jeffrey Hadden, competed in the individual plumbing competition and placed third in the state. For the competition, Jeffrey had to "rough in" hot and cold water lines with copper to a water heater, install a sanitary drainage waste system, and vent lines with cast iron and PVC plastic for a water closet, lavatory, washer box and floor drain. Professional plumbers pressure tested the completed work and judged his accuracy, workmanship and proper use of tools.
To qualify for the state competition, the students won the region six competition, which consisted of students from 28 surrounding counties. The region competition, held in Augusta in February, required the students to take individual written exams. Because their score was in the top 10, the THS team received a Makita Reciprocating Saw.
The 43rd annual SkillsUSA National Championship will take place June 25-29 in Kansas City. Anyone wishing to make a donation to help offset the team's costs for the trip may call Mr. Arrington at THS, 706-986-4200.