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Construction students win state

Thomson High School construction students once again have won the state competition and will head to Kansas City, Mo. for national competition this summer.

Sophomore Brett Jenkins placed first in the plumbing competition and sophomore Brandon Carlton, junior Boo Cowart, and seniors Gil Usry and Jackson Reddick placed first in the TeamWorks competition of the Skills U.S.A. State Competitions March 12.

"Any teacher is going to be proud of their students who do something like that," construction instructor Barry Arrington said. "But each one of them impressed me because they went over what I thought they could do."

In TeamWorks competition, a team of four students is given a set of plans, materials and a time limit to build a small structure. The structure tests their abilities in masonry, carpentry, plumbing and wiring, according to Mr. Arrington.

Although the four Thomson students occasionally ran into something that was new to them as they worked their project -- quoins on the corners of the masonry, metal studs, and flexible conduit -- they still were the only team to actually complete the whole project.

"We were working about the same as everybody else, but after lunch we really got ahead," Jackson said. "I think it was the Chik-fil-a."

The 500 best students in Georgia were participating in all 27 competitions at the event, held at the Georgia Convention Center. McDuffie students have placed at the state level and competed at the national level for the past three years in TeamWorks, Mr. Arrington said

"It's an experience," said Michael Studdard, Thomson's junior who placed second in residential wiring. "It was crowded. You can't let your surroundings bother you. You just have to focus and work at your own pace."

This year's competition was a first for Brett and Michael. Mr. Arrington said he usually places younger students in the individual competitions to give them the experience. After they've competed on the individual level for a year or two, he puts them together to form a team for TeamWorks. Boo, Gil, Brandon and Jackson all worked together last year to win the state level competition.

"I look at those who are interested, who put in extra work after school," Mr. Arrington said. "The ones (who are self-motivated) and get the work done."

The SkillsUSA Championships bring together industry and labor representatives, educators and the public to watch students compete in leadership and hands-on skill events for a full day, according to the website. Students have the chance to win medals, scholarships, tools and make job contacts.

The national competition is in Kansas City, Mo. the week of June 21-26. The 50 winners of each state level competition will vie for the national title.

The five students and three advisors will take a school bus to Kansas City. Mr. Arrington said funds are needed to buy materials for practicing, to make the trip, for hotel rooms and for the $825 registration fee. To make a donation, call Mr. Arrington, 706-986-4200.

Web posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010

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