Building skills

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Building: Charles Baldwin, a student in building trades at the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology, works on framing a shed at the Building Trades Expo on Wednesday. The students got to practice their skills in front of parents and judges.

New event tests students’ construction savvy

Thirteen high school students spent Wednesday morning sawing wood, climbing ladders and hammering nails inside the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology.

They weren’t making repairs to the building, though — they were participating in the Building Trades Expo at the center.

Pruden Center students David Watson, left, and Dakota Ashley work on constructing a shed during a Building Trades Expo at the center on Wednesday. The event was designed to help the students put what they’ve learned into practice.

The event is meant to give the students a chance to practice the construction skills they have learned in the classroom, said building trades instructor John Thompson.

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“We’ve kind of pictured this as a way to showcase these young people’s talents,” Thompson said. “They’ve learned all the skills. Now, they’re exhibiting those skills.”

The inaugural event was inspired by the Heavy Equipment Rodeo that the construction trades classes host every year, which lets those students practice operating backhoes and other heavy equipment.

The construction students split into three teams on Wednesday morning. Each team spent about two hours framing an 8-by-12 shed in the Pruden Center’s warehouse. The sheds eventually will be finished and sold to the public.

As the students worked, Thompson provided guidance and correction. A team of volunteer judges from the construction field used levels, tape measures and square rules to give a verdict on the quality of the students’ work.

Many of the students’ parents watched from a masonry-and-wood platform in the middle of the room.

The students said the project helps them learn more about the construction trade.

“It’s a hands-on experience,” said student Charles Baldwin. “You can work with your hands instead of sitting in a classroom with a book and a pencil.”

The purpose of the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology is to provide opportunities for students to learn a trade or skill to be prepared for the workplace. Baldwin said that is being accomplished in his classes and through events such as the Building Trades Expo.

“It’s almost like you’re on the job, but you’re learning as you go,” he said.

The participating students were Dakota Ashley, Stevie Bailey, Charles Baldwin, Jamaal Belfield, Douglas Bradshaw, Clayton Evans, Michael Henderson, Demetrious Johnson, Christopher Kennedy, Kristopher McConnell, Nicholas Pennington, David Watson and Kyle Wood.