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Rowan-Salisbury Schools brings Skills Rowan competition back to its roots

CHINA GROVE — Technical students cobbled together small sections of brick and concrete walls at South Rowan High School Friday as part of a competition that historically hosted entrants from across the state.

This year’s Skills Rowan competition was a bit different. With school districts not allowing out-of-county field trips and the district trying to comply with gathering restrictions, the event was scaled down to just Rowan-Salisbury Schools. The carpentry part of the competition was removed.

Friday’s competition was all about masonry. Students built wall sections to specification to be judged.

District Career and Technical Education Director Holly Pore said the event would in a normal year serve as the regional rally for Skills USA. Students from the region could qualify for state-level competition through it. This year, the competition only hosted students from South Rowan, West Rowan and Carson High Schools.

Rodney Harrington, the masonry instructor at West Rowan, said the hope is to go back to the larger competition next year.

“These kids work all semester and all year to be able to prepare for these competitions,” Harrington said, adding students get to meet industry professionals at events like these.

Judges looked for factors such as whether the brick structure was level and its overall appearance. Harrington said the most important part of learning masonry is not the number of pieces you lay; it’s the number you lay right.

Some students are already working in the field part time. Harrington said students who are skilled in masonry will always be able to find work because of demand.

Anderson Pruett, a West Rowan junior, is already working for a contractor.

Pruett said he was thrown into a masonry class when he was a freshman and not sure if he would like it. He started doing it every day, improving, and decided he wanted to take part in competitions to get his name out.

He isn’t sure if he wants to work in masonry forever, but he intends to keep learning.

Pruett said he enjoys masonry and that it’s a creative outlet for him.

“Yes, there’s something that tells me exactly how to do this, but the only person that can make it happen is me,” Pruett said, “That’s why I like it. Everything you see here, I did it.”

Masonry No. 1 and No. 2 students were split into different categories for the event and had to build sections of different complexity.

Pruett won the Masonry No. 2 category of the competition. Fellow West Rowan student Mason Lee won the Masonry No. 1 division.

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