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Local construction students compete to build picnic table
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Local construction students compete to build picnic table

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Twenty-eight students from Rudder High School, Bryan High School and the Career and Technical Education Complex Student Construction Science classes competed against each other for the first time on Thursday to build the best picnic table.

Laura King, assistant director of CTEC, said one of the reasons for the competition was to prepare students for a Skills USA competition that will take place next February.

Skills USA is a national organization serving students enrolled in training programs in technical, skilled and service occupations; it provides experience in leadership, teamwork and character development.

“The students are receiving a hands-on experience in working as a team to complete the assignment and gain experience before they compete next year,” King said. “This will allow them to grow in their work skills, teamwork skills and follow direction from their teachers.”

John Templeton, construction science instructor at CTEC, hopes this will become an annual event and more schools in the surrounding area can be invited next year.

“One of the goals I have for next year is to open up this competition for more kids to compete. Maybe kids from College Station or our other surrounding schools can participate,” he said. “At the end of the day, the community is going to win because we are putting out kids in the work force and building picnic tables for organizations that need it.”

King said the other focus for this first-time competition was to allow for a community service opportunity for the students and the residents of Bryan.

“We are proud of these students as they are able to give back to the community and provide community outreach once these picnic tables are donated to areas in need,” King said.

The construction students were in groups of three or four and placed into teams based on skill level from intermediate to advanced. The eight teams had three and a half hours to build a picnic table without assistance from their teachers. They were all given a set of plans, and a finished product to observe as they went to work.

Templeton said most of the students have their Occupational Safety and Health 30 certification and their National Center for Construction Education and Research Core certification.

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“Those are things that we offer at Bryan High School and at CTEC to get these kids ready for industry,” he said.

Students from Snook and Caldwell High School also were in the CTEC program.

Rudder senior Jesse Calderon, whose team was in the advanced category, said he was proud of his team’s finished table.

“I think we did a pretty good job. The only difficulty we had was in the beginning when we had to choose what pieces of wood we were going to use and where we were going to put them,” Calderon said. “Other than that, I think we did a great job and we finished pretty quickly.”

Calderon and his two teammates finished with 30 minutes left on the clock. Each team upon completion had to have a clean area and space for their picnic table to be judged. As the judging took place, they students enjoyed food supplied by one of the judges from Vaughn Construction of Bryan.

Bryan senior Sergio Peña, whose team was in the advanced category, said his team worked together effortlessly.

“We were such a good team and I think we did a pretty good job overall,” he said. “We didn’t have any difficulties and we all worked really well together.”

Peña plans to go college or work in the construction industry after he graduates.

The winners were chosen by industry partners for CTEC, and the students were awarded a laser engraved plaque made by the CTEC engineering department. The winners also received prizes such as tool kits, jackets, mugs and more donated by Blackstone Homes and McCoy’s Building Supply.

King noted that the judges for the competition talked with the students about how they did on their tables and areas where they can improve their skills.

The advanced team winners: CTEC Team 1, first place; Rudder High, second place; CTEC Team 3, third place. The intermediate team winners: Rudder High, first place; Bryan High, second place.

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