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Team advances to national SkillsUSA competition

Several students in Thomson High School's construction class participated in the state SkillsUSA competition last weekend, and once again Thomson will be represented at the national competition in Kansas City, Mo.

Brett Jenkins, a junior, won the individual plumbing competition and will go on to the national level in June.

The four-member team -- Boo Cowart, Rhett Hinesley, Brandon Carlton and Evan Hunt -- placed second in the Teamworks competition. And Bradley Hill placed second in individual industrial motor control.

"Everybody did well," construction teacher Tony Arrington said. "It's a whole lot of pressure out on that floor. I'm extremely proud of everything they've done, the time they've put in and the results they got."

It was the second year Brett has placed first in the region and state competition. He placed 14th in the nation last summer and has worked all year to better his performance. Arrington said Brett's practice has paid off, and his work was noticeably better than all the other competitors, even the one who placed second.

"Brett is so clean, so precise. Even the judges respect him," Arrington said. "They're proud of him. They say, 'This is somebody we want in our industry.' He's got a lot of respect in the industry, so that bodes well for him. ... He's got a lot of connections now."

SkillsUSA is a national, nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. Competitions are held for trades including, but not limited to, filmmaking, commercial baking, auto mechanics, computer programming, crime scene investigation, cosmetology and firefighting.

Professionals in each trade serve as judges in the competitions, and companies offer training scholarships and recruit future workers. Bradley received a two-year scholarship from an electrical union in Atlanta.

"Not only did they win, but some of them got scholarships and training opportunities for after high school," Arrington said of his students. 'They don't have to worry about money or whatever to keep pursuing their career."

The carpentry competition features team and individual contests in masonry, carpentry, plumbing and wiring.

Students are judged on accuracy, ability to read and interpret blueprints, workmanship and proper use of tools and equipment.

Thomson High School has won first place in regional and state competitions for several years in Teamworks, a category in which four students work to build a structure.

This year's team came in a close second to longtime rival Camden County.

"We walked in the door and they looked at one another and the students kind of squared off," Arrington said.

"But it was a good battle. And, when everything is said and done, there's respect there for each other. We challenge each other to bring their game."

Web posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011

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