by Lisa Tome
Everybody should have a friend like Ron Blankenship.
After Blankenship's friend Jakob Campbell earned the top award in a state contest, Blankenship is helping Campbell prepare for the next level of competition, the nationals.
The pair competed in the Maryland Skills USA Industrial Motor Control Competition at CAT-North in Severn on April 29.
Campbell won the gold medal and Blankenship earned the silver. Both are graduates of the Cecil County School of Technology's Heavy Industrial Maintenance program and they will graduate from North East High in less than a month.
"This was a tough, grueling competition. These two young men have worked hard over the past two months to prepare for the competition," said David Shiel, Heavy Industrial Maintenance Instructor at Cecil School of Technology. "In addition to staying focused and on task while in my program, both of these students have continued to come to my shop to improve their knowledge and skills practicing conduit bending, reading schematic drawings, and wiring various motor control projects."
For winning the state contest, Campbell earned a four year scholarship to the IEC Chesapeake College apprenticeship program. Blankenship earned a half year scholarship to the same program.
"I wanted to learn a skill, a trade. I wanted to get good at something and get a job out of high school," said Campbell, explaining why he signed on for a year at CCST.
Blankenship comes from a family whose members are skilled in construction trades. Both enjoyed the variety of skills they learned at School of Tech.
Before the competition, the pair had worked together for the entire school year. They described their friendly competition at working to best the other.
"I think I could have gotten it (the gold) but he worked harder than I did," said Blankenshp. Campbell has secured a job with JPS Electrical contractors. Blankenship has opportunities but hasn't selected which he will take.
They credit their teacher.
"Mr. Shiel is a great teacher. He is knowledgeable and skilled," said Campbell. Both said they feel like that got a personalized education made just for them at School of Tech.
His win in Maryland means that Campbell will now advance to the National Skills USA competition which will be held in Louisville, Kentucky in June. Blankenship has signed on to help Campbell prepare for nationals.