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Trade students judged by masters

January 24, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- For some, it's the family business. For others, it's a second career.

About 40 men competed Saturday in the annual Apprenticeship Craft Olympics at the Barr Construction Institute.

For four years, they've apprenticed and studied electrical, plumbing, HVAC and carpentry. On Saturday, they spent the day working in front of judges, most of whom were masters in their fields.

Morgan Collis of Martinsburg, W.Va., is a carpentry student. It's the family business, Collis said, and he plans to continue working in the field when he completes school.

Carpentry students on Saturday had to show they could lay a building foundation, put up walls and install insulation material, said Frank Traver, one of the judges.

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The students still will have to go before the boards of their individual trades to earn their licenses, but upon completion at the Barr Construction Institute, they will receive certificates from the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council, said Joan L. Warner, president of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.

Winners of each of the four trade competitions are eligible to go to a national competition in Hawaii next month, provided they score a minimum of 85 percent on a written exam as well, Warner said Saturday.

Jammie Shanholtz of Hagerstown worked in customer service for 12 years, he said. Four years ago, he decided to change careers. Electrical work is an interesting trade, and Shanholtz decided to go to school for that, he said.

The trade students apprentice at a business during the day and attend classes at night.

Shanholtz relied on his hands-on training gained during his apprenticeship to get him through Saturday's competition, he said.

Shanholtz eventually would like to open his own business, he said.

Brian Starr, another electrical trade student, wanted to better himself and knew electricians always are in demand, he said.

Starr now has seven years of on-the-job experience and wants to progress to his master's license, he said.

The students on Saturday had to show they had learned the skills they have been taught, Warner said.

George Parrish, who works as a city inspector, was one of the judges for the electrical competition.

Parrish was looking at how "accurate they are in doing the job," the students' knowledge about various tools, whether the final product would be functional and safety, he said.

Levi Bennett of Middletown, Md., was the lone HVAC student.

Bennett was focusing on the details during his test Saturday, which involved setting up a unit similar to one in a commercial setting, he said as he ripped duct tape and attached it to the unit.

Bennett plans to get his license and continue working in the trade, he said.

In the plumbing competition, students "roughed in" a bathroom, measuring and drilling.

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