Celebrating 50 Years of SkillsUSA

Words: Dan Kamys


Shown are the winners of the 2014 National Masonry Contest at the 50th Anniversary SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, who took stage at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. On the platform they are (l to r) 3rd place winner Brandon S. Gain, The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.; 2nd place winner Dakota Claypool, Academy of Careers and Technology, Beckley, W.Va.; 1st place winners Samuel McSherry, Burton Center for Arts and Technology, Salem, Va. and Daniel Furr, Mountain Pleasant High School, Mt. Pleasant, N.C.; followed by 3rd place winner Ty Isbell, Dekalb County Technology Center, Rainsville, Ala.; and 2nd place winner David Puga Arce, Arizona Masonry Contractors Association, Phoenix, Ariz. Flanking the winners are Masonry Technical Committee members (extreme left) Bill Kjorlien, Masonry Technical Services Manager, Argos USA Corp. and former Masonry Technical Committee chairman; and (extreme right) Bryan Light of Brick Industry Association SE Region and chair of the Masonry Technical Committee, which organized contest.
Companies and organizations of the masonry industry joined together June 25 - 27 to support the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and the National Masonry Contest. For up to six hours, 52 young masons from 36 states competed at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo. Each contestant, using bricks, blocks and mortar, tried to construct the winning project by placing the masonry materials, according to plans, on a concrete block base.
Shown is Samuel McSherry, 1st place winner of the SkillsUSA high school/secondary division.
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?? Shown is Samuel McSherry, 1st place winner of the SkillsUSA high school/secondary division.
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?? Bryan Light, Masonry Technical Committee, addresses the SkillsUSA contestants.
?????Ǭ?techniques and overall appearance. Bryan Light of Brick SouthEast, a Brick Industry Association affiliate, has served as chairman of the technical committee since 2003. Light was complimentary in his appreciation of other supporters. “Our industry’s support of this competition continues to be exemplary,” says Light. “Everyone involved understands the importance of technical training for the proper use of their products, each of which contributes to excellence in finished brick and block projects.” Members of the National Masonry Technical Committee and other sustaining members and sponsors of the contest include Brick Industry Association SE Region; Argos USA, Bon Tool Co.; Brick Industry Association; Marshalltown Co.; Mason Contractors Association of America; Masonry Institute of Tennessee; Multiquip Corp., National Concrete Masonry Association; NCCER, Oldcastle Architectural, and Spec Mix. This year’s contestant was supported by donations of blocks from Midwest Block & Brick, mortar from Spec Mix, mortar mixing equipment from Multiquip, and bricks from Oldcastle Architectural. Spec Mix salesmen from around the country were slingin’ their mud, donated of course, in support of the contest. Other companies supporting the contest were Lowe’s and Calculated Industries. Other highlights of the annual gathering of masonry companies, organizations, instructors and students included a field trip to a local block plant arranged by NCMA representatives Dennis Graber and Mark Wilhelms. The tour was followed by a luncheon in honor of the contestants and their instructors.
MCAA Chairman Mark Kemp was keynote speaker at the SkillsUSA event.
Mark Kemp, chairman of the board of directors of MCAA, was the luncheon keynote speaker. Kemp encouraged the young masons with a motivating talk he referred to as “Struggles + Effort = Success.” Originally known as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA), SkillsUSA was established in 1965. Masonry was added to the National VICA Conference in 1969. The SkillsUSA organization represents more than 350,000 students and instructors from 13,000 school chapters in 54 states and territories. Ironically, the 50th annual event marks the last time it was held in Kansas City. The 2015 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference will be held in Louisville, Ky.  
To learn more about the Masonry Technical Committee, contact Bryan Light at 770-760-0728. To learn more about SkillsUSA, visit www.SkillsUSA.org. ??
1. Quebec Saturday, June 14, Gatineau, QB2. Ohio Saturday, August 2, Harrison, OH3. Washington Saturday, August 9, Seattle, WA 4. East Tennessee Saturday, August 16, Piney Flats, TN 5. Utah Friday, August 22, Salt Lake City, UT 6. British Columbia Friday, September 5, Surrey, BC 7. Wisconsin Thursday, September 18, Milwaukee, WI 8. West Tennessee Friday, September 19, Nashville, TN 9. Colorado Saturday, September 20, Denver, CO 10. Iowa Friday, September 26, Cedar Rapids, IA 11. Florida Saturday, September 27, Jacksonville, FL 12. Oklahoma Thursday, October 2, Tulsa, OK 13. Ontario Wednesday, October 8, Waterloo, ON14. Pennsylvania Thursday, October 9, Crum Lynne, PA15. Illinois Friday, October 10, Chicago, IL 16. California Saturday, October 11, Sunnyvale, CA 17. North Carolina Wednesday, October 15, Charlotte, NC 18. New Jersey Thursday, October 16, Sparta Township, NJ 19. North Texas Thursday, October 23, Dallas, TX 20. South Texas Thursday, October 30, Alleyton, TX 21. Alabama Thursday, November 6, Tuscaloosa, AL 22. Alberta Friday, November 7, Calgary, AB 23. Arizona Saturday, December 6, Phoenix, AZ
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