Recent West Rowan grad wins state masonry competition, credits program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2021

MIDLAND – West Rowan High School was well-represented at state masonry apprentice competition held last week.

Two recent graduates and a current student in the masonry program competed and placed in the top 10 at the Sam McGee Memorial Masonry Contest in Midland. Grant Helms, 19, who graduated last year, finished first.

Helms competed when he was in high school as well. The competition is limited to apprentice masons with fewer than 4,000 hours in the field. They can compete a maximum of three times. This was Helms’ last shot at winning the competition and he pulled it off with a perfect score on his entry.

“It feels great,” Helms said. “I was really excited about it and always wanted to win that contest.”

When he was a student, Helms won the Skills USA state competition and went on to win the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2019.

Helms’ father owns a masonry company. So he has been around the trade his entire life, but it was not until his sophomore year in high school, when he enrolled in the program at West Rowan, that he started dedicating himself to the trade.

“I love it,” Helms said. “It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

He credits his dad and West Rowan Masonry Instructor Rodney Harrington for getting him where he is today. He said the projects he completed at West helped him develop his skills.

“In masonry you learn something new every day,” Helms said. “It’s small things that you learn and it’ll make you better.”

Helms said he has always enjoyed working with his hands, and what he likes about masonry is the permanence of the work.

“At the end of the day you can see you built something and know it’s going to be there for the rest of your life, or several hundred years,” Helms said.

In June, Helms will compete in a national competition. At some point, he hopes to win the Bricklayer 500, a national speed competition.

Helms wanted to thank the McGee brothers for hosting the competition.

The other West Rowan representation at the competition was fellow 2020 graduate Cyress Brown, who finished third, and West junior Anderson Pruett, who finished in sixth place

Harrington said Pruett competing at this level is impressive. Pruett won a district competition with students from West, East and Carson high schools on May 8 and is already working part time as a mason.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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