Program Wins Honors in Its Very First Year
It was a gamble that paid off. Last fall, when the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) partnered with Halifax County High School to bring the WoodLINKS, USA program to the county, it was part innovation and part experiment. Could new teachers be successful with a new curriculum with students who’d never experienced anything like it before? Ten months later with a class project that is a work of art and a first place finish in a national competition, there is no doubt that the bet on WoodLINKS was the right move.
July 14-18, recent high school graduates John Barry and McKenzie Stevens travelled to Las Vegas with their WoodLINKS instructors, Clint Johnson and Kevin Chrystie to compete in the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) Fresh Wood Student Competition.
The competition is the largest of its kind, and highlights outstanding construction and design achievements by students. The competition was stiff as the HCHS students competed against students from across the United States. But it was Barry & Stevens who came out on top, winning first place honors in the High School Class Project category. “It was the best feeling I ever had in my entire life. Ever. Nothing else even comes close,” said John Barry. “I have to agree with John,” said Barry’s partner in the class project, McKenzie Stevens. “When we heard our names called I was overwhelmed with happiness. It was an emotional day,” he said.
The awards for the Fresh Wood Student Competition were handed out at the AWFS Awards Dinner that included leaders and CEO’s in the wood industry. “After the awards were handed out,” recalls instructor Kevin Chrystie, “there were many people that came by and congratulated both John and McKenzie on their achievement. It was really wonderful to be there to witness their future unfold before their eyes. “I can’t express how proud we are of them,” said WoodLINKS instructor Clint Johnson. “To see your students have an achievement like this is a great feeling for an instructor and really positive for the program itself,” he said. For their part, the students credit their WoodLINKS instructors for making their success possible.
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