Roydarius Hobbs will compete in masonry for McDuffie County High School.
Roydarius Hobbs will compete in masonry for McDuffie County High School.

High school students ready for state job skills contest

(Featured photo is of Roydarius Hobbs who will compete in masonry for Thomson High School.)

Roydarius Hobbs has multiple people interested in signing him after he graduates.

 But he’s not an all-star running back or all-state forward. Instead, the Thomson High School senior is a champion brick mason.

Avi Sanchez will represent Richmond County in the SkillsUSA state competition March 9-11 in Atlanta. The T.W. Josey High School senior is a member of student council and on the superintendent’s student advisory committee. Courtesy photo

“He’s won every competition he’s been in – except when he came in second at state last year. That’s about 15 competitions,” said Steven Whatley, Thomson High School’s construction teacher. “Roy has some of the best opportunities, great career opportunities making more than I ever dreamed I’d make when I was in college.”

Hobbs is part of Georgia’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education program at Thomson High and will be competing at the SkillsUSA state leadership and skills competition March 9-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. February is CTAE month.

Hobbs learned a lot about the trade by watching his brick mason father on the job. He said he sometimes went to work with his dad.

 “It’s an art,” said Hobbs of the trade.  “You can make something out of nothing.”

 The top three students from the regional competitions are eligible to advance to the state contest, and area counties are sending multiple students to the March event. Students compete in a variety of areas from carpentry, brick masonry and welding to hair design, customer service and job interview.

Avi Sanchez, a T.W. Josey High School senior who also trains at the Marion Barnes Career Center, will represent Richmond County in the carpentry competition.

“I love construction in general. Everything— laying bricks, pouring concrete, putting plumbing in, the electrical, HVAC, putting in shingles, framing up the walls,” said Sanchez who also learned from his father.

While students learn some skills in the classroom, they put them to the test in real world applications.

Whatley tries to find projects around Thomson High School that would benefit both the school and the students.

Steven Whatley and Roydarius Hobbs work on a grill at Thomson High School. Courtesy photo

“Students learn by doing jobs,” he said. “They learn more than by just doing repetitive actions.”

Sanchez has also done real-world projects at school such as building picnic tables, dog houses, cabinets and a shed.

The competitions allow students to use the knowledge they’ve received and test it under pressure.

Sanchez said the best approach during the competition is to trust his instincts.

 “Read the plan and stick with your first goal,” he said. “You might overthink.  I overthink. ‘Am I doing it right? Am I doing it wrong? Am I going fast enough?’”

 Whatley says the competitions and the program overall allows students to develop their critical thinking skills and problems solving abilities, which is the reason he walked away from his construction business to go into teaching. He refused to hire anyone under the age of 30 because they didn’t possess these skills, but rather than complain about it, Whatley decided to do something.

Now he rewards his students for putting forth effort even if they fail In doing it.

“Trying is teaching you to solve your own problems,” he said.

Here are some of the area students competing at SkillsUSA

Evans High: Hannah Dixon, Jaidyn Phillips, and Neil Whatley, construction; Esperanza Lorenzo Martinez, Reilly Thornton, allied health; Lucas Justiano, firefighting; Autumn Weathers, Elizabeth Stupec, Kamryn Majors, Brandon Radford, Jason Gaines, automotive; Alexander Young, Raven Arrington, Dominic Power, Kaden Hyatt, Jackson Evans, Zander Conner, welding.

Grovetown High: Melina Neal, Anna Duncan, Maddison Beasley, Ethan Groves, Nolan Richards, and Adam Duncan, tactical team event; Addison Houk, Willow Spah, and Ahmarion Gilbert, high risk traffic stop; Autumn Richards, career profile portfolio

Avi Sanchez during a recent competition. Courtesy photo

Greenbrier High: Caleb Oglesby (Team Leader), Sawyer Curry, Eman Hamada and Zachariah Matlock, Nicholas Park, Vhance Vanlie, tactical team; Jackson Busby (Team Leader), Morgan Dabrowski and Riley Moore, High Risk Vehicle Stop Team; Emily Morton (Team Leader), Naomi Harris and Kaitlyn Taylor, Crime Scene Investigation Team; Kyra Pena, Extemporaneous Speaking;  Alison Donosky, Legal Service Knowledge; Madison Proctor,  Voting Delegate

Harlem High: Alek Helpingstine, Kayla Cloinger and Braxton Gross, High Risk Vehicle Stop; Nathan Logan, Riley McElveen, Gavin Mullis, Evan Perkins, Orlando Santiago and Natalie Schel, Tactical Team; Jocelynne Bourassa, Job Skill Demonstration; Gabe Moore, First Aid/CPR; Yasmin Pless, Jordan Seraphin and Lola Lu, Crime Scene Investigation

Thomson High School: Levi Doss, Holden Wright, Evan Holbrook, Hayden Connor, Metal Working Display; Camryn Winfrey, Health Knowledge Bowl; Curtis Tiller, Mathematical Applications; Emmalee Holliman, Medical Terminology, Promotional Bulletin Board; Sean O’Neal, Automotive Service Technology; Spencer Parrish, Plumbing Steven Human, Carpentry; Roydarius Hobbs, Masonry; Jake Bennett, Construction Math; Devon Belton, Job Interview; Gabriella Lee, Career Profile Portfolio; Makiya Brinson, Cosmetology; Keriah Ivey, Esthetics; Katelynn Grissom, Early Childhood Education; Topanga Lewis, Promotional Bulletin Board Ja’Shaylyn Grier, Customer Service; Arnika Myricks, Kyleigh Tankersley, Madison Green, Kimora Sharpe, Andreonna Johnson, Hair Design Display; Emma Alfriend, Basic Healthcare Skills, Promotional Bulletin Board.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Subscribe here to have headlines delivered to your inbox.

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