Carter County schools win regional construction competition

Many schools teach different skills for different students, but when a competition encourages these schools to come together, their collective knowledge surpasses what they could accomplish on their own.

Four Carter County high schools came together last week to compete in an East Tennessee building competition. For the second year of the competition, Carter County took home the grand prize.

Happy Valley High School electrical instructor James Monroe said it was incredible to win both years of the competition.

“It was an incredible feeling,” Monroe said. “We all worked on this project together.”

Battle of the Build is a competition Johnson City Homebuilder Association has been hosting to sponsor seven teams to compete against one another in building projects. Teams came from high schools like Elizabethton, Science Hill and David Crockett, among others.

Carter County, however, is an exception: because different schools teach different trade skills, like Happy Valley teaching electrical work and Unaka teaching auto repair. The four county schools decided to band together and compete as “Carter County High School.”

Monroe said the partnership brought together all the trades students were learning in different schools.

“We did it because of the diversity of our schools,” he said. “We are a showmanship of how our county can come together to accomplish a goal without fighting or bickering.”

He said the students’ maturity showcased the value of learning teamwork.

“When they grow up, they will have to work beside people we do not know,” he said. “They will need to learn to trust one another.”

This year, the team chose to create and decorate a unit, turning it into a miniature home.

“We took about five to seven kids to build a set,” Monroe said. “We put in a hardwood floor and decorated it like the inside of a home. The electrical kids did all the wiring, and they even put in LED lights underneath so the floor had a soft glow to it.”

The team’s centerpiece, however, was the pool table, which they refurbished and set in the back half of a pick-up truck.

“The inspiration came from a student named Zach from Hampton,” he said. “He found a pool table in the dumpster, and we got someone to come over and show us how to stretch the felt so we could redo it.”

Though all four schools put in the work, Monroe said Unaka should get the credit for the actual build idea.

“It was close to 200 man hours for this project,” Monroe said. “They worked until midnight sometimes, and they would work on weekends and snow days.”

He said the teamwork the students displayed showcased what Carter County is all about.

“When the going gets tough, Carter County comes together,” Monroe said.

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