Archived Story

Contest of the carpenters

Published 11:35pm Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hammers, nails, handsaws and lumber were in abundance, but pneumatic nail guns and other power tools were nowhere to be seen.

At the Pruden Center’s second annual Building Trades Expo Thursday, about 16 students got back to carpentry basics while competing in teams to frame a small shed.

On Thursday, instructor John Thompson helps Lydia Reynolds, the only girl to participate in the event, and Dlonte Gay during the Pruden Center’s Building Trades Expo.
On Thursday, instructor John Thompson helps Lydia Reynolds, the only girl to participate in the event, and Dlonte Gay during the Pruden Center’s Building Trades Expo.

Before an audience including building trades instructor John Thompson, professional judges, industry observers and their friends and family members, the young men and one young lady put their skills to the test.

“They are using and demonstrating all the skills learned in the building trades classroom,” said Corey McCray, Pruden Center director. “They include core academics, mathematics, engineering, even some concepts that are architectural.”

Judges, such as Saunders Supply Company co-owner Paul F. Saunders, who also presented awards at the end of the competition, were representatives of the Pruden Center’s business partners, McCray said.

Points were awarded based on criteria including use and care of tools, following the plans, the sequence of construction, safety and workmanship.

“Whether they got one wall set up or two walls, that was not a criterion,” Saunders said.

Many folks looking on from the building industry were there to see what the students have to offer, according to McCray. International construction group Skanska was represented.

“Students who come out of this program are going to be building our homes in the future,” McCray said. “We want to make sure the (building) community knows these students.”

Jerry Moore and Bobbie Batton took time out from the pro services desk at Suffolk’s Lowe’s to attend the event.

“It’s nice to see they are learning the basic skills and to work as a team,” Moore commented.

“They are able to make a set of plans and actually build something from those plans. When they progress, hammer and nails will be replaced by power tools. This is the way carpentry started out, so it’s nice to see they are learning those basic skills.”

Ashley Gay, who does home repair and carpentry, said his son Dlonte Gay, a competitor, likes to help him out on the job.

“This is my first time seeing him in the classroom,” he added.

A major focus of the event was setting students up with jobs, Thompson said, and he expressed confidence opportunities would flow.

Students and their places in the competition were Richard White, Sharod Patterson and William Babb, first; Aaron Riddick, Antonio Perry and Aaron Worrell, second; Dlonte Gay, Daquan Brock and Lydia Reynolds, third; and Samuel Wilson, Jakob Devers and Romello Vargas, fourth.

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