Three of four Centralia High School seniors who competed in the SkillsUSA Regional Carpentry Contest on Wednesday will move onto the state competition in April after they scored in the top five at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.

There were 12 students that participated from Centralia, the Clark County Skills Center and Ilwaco as they put their expertise to the test with the construction of a wooden wall.

SkillsUSA Carpentry Competition

Kevin Garduno works on his project at the SkillsUSA Carpentry competition Wednesday at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.

They were judged on their quality of workmanship, the proper way to hammer a nail, and whether the framing stuck to its corresponding plans, among other items. The hands-on challenge accounted for 39 points, and a written test of 40 questions also played into their scores, as did other competitions, such as one that focused on nail driving.

SkillsUSA Carpentry Competition

Trajan Ziel competes at the regional SkillsUSA competition at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds on Wednesday.

According to Centralia High School construction class teacher Mitchell Smith, the event — a precursor to other competitions — requires the students to think critically, solve problems and get even more hands-on experience.

“This is the fun part of my job,” he said. “The kids are able to show their skills to the community.”

Lincoln Creek Lumber and Sierra Pacific donated the materials and prizes to make the competition a reality.

SkillsUSA Carpentry Competition

Centralia High School senior Riley Register waits as judges Tom Christensen, Erik Jensen and Mike Walkley score his work during the SkillsUSA Carpentry competition on Wednesday at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.

“They’ve supported me for 15 years,” Smith said of the sponsors. “They understand that we don’t have enough kids going into the trades.”

Judges Tom Christensen, Erik Jensen and Mike Walkley, who all have vast experience in the trade, critiqued the work.

The students who earned the five highest scores will move on to the state competition in Yakima this April where the projects and the competition get more difficult.

The state competition will likely require the students to construct two or three walls and hook them together, while the national competition requires them to construct a building with a roof. What the world competition in Dubai will require is anyone’s guess at this point, Smith said. 

Centralia High School has experienced previous success in various SkillsUSA competitions, advancing to the state and national levels.

Smith said the experience they earn is second to none. Once a student gets a taste of the competitions, they keep coming back for more, he said.

“Nationals brings them to a whole new level,” Smith said. “You can’t replicate that with anything.”

This year all four of the Centralia High School students are seniors. They have been in the carpentry class between one to two years.


SkillsUSA Carpentry Competition

Centralia High School construction teacher Mitchell Smith, left, goes through scorecards at the SkillsUSA Carpentry competition as judge Erik Jensen stands nearby.

SkillsUSA Carpentry Competition

Judge Erik Jensen gives feedback to Kevin Garduno, a senior at Centralia High School, during the SkillsUSA Carpentry Contest on Wednesday at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds. Garduno placed first at the regional competition and will move on to state.


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