PEARL ― Four of Mississippi’s top-performing career and technical education students received student of the year awards from the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation during the organization’s annual celebration on May 3. The award recognizes winners from MCEF’s four districts and includes a $500 cash prize.

Recipients include northern district winner Jacob Bates, a welding student at Tippah Career and Technology Center; north central district winner Bradly Cunningham, a carpentry student at Lowndes County Career Technology Center; south central winner Brooke Clark, a carpentry student at Vicksburg Warren Career and Technical Center; and southern district winner Jason Fricke, a welding student at Hancock County Career Technical Center.

“We congratulate Jacob, Bradly, Brooke and Jason for earning student of the year awards and for being excellent representatives of high school career tech programs in Mississippi,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “We’re proud of all of our students of the year and students of the month for helping ensure that Mississippi has a highly skilled workforce to support the state’s growing construction and manufacturing industries.”

Student of the year winners were selected from a field of 27 students of the month for 2018-19. All finalists were honored during a graduation and awards dinner along with winners of the MCEF and Mississippi State Board of Contractors scholarship program and the MCEF State Craft Competition.

Instructor nominations for student of the month are based on grades, attendance, class discipline, outstanding achievements, leadership abilities and post-graduation plans. A committee selects monthly and yearly award recipients.

Bates serves as team lead for his SkillsUSA welding fabrication team and is the recipient of his school’s teacher choice award. He stands out in his community, working at Knothole Cabinet Shop while playing an active role in Falkner High School’s Leukemia/Lymphoma Society Pennies for Patients charity drive. Upon graduation, Bates will enter the workforce as a pipeline welding helper with a goal of working his way up the ladder to success.

Boasting a perfect grade point average, Clark owns the highest average in carpentry at her CTE. One of only three in her class to pass the NCCER exam, she excels in all assignments involving design and building and is currently volunteering to help create a new building at her church. Upon graduation, she plans to work for a construction company while earning an associate degree from Hinds Community College.

With sights set on managing his own real estate company, Cunningham is intentional about using his construction foundation as a springboard. He also is active in SkillsUSA, in which he earned first place regional honors in the job skills leadership interview division in 2018 and 2019. He also serves as Student Government Association vice president at Caledonia High School and is a two-year member of the honor roll, the principal’s list and the superintendent’s list. Cunningham plans to continue his education at East Central Community College.

Twice the welding student of the year at Hancock CTE, Fricke exhibits a passion for his trade that is recognized in craft competitions across the state. He is equally talented in the classroom, touting a near-perfect grade point average and an excellent attendance record. Upon graduation, he plans to study welding at Pearl River Community College.

In addition to the students of the year being named at MCEF’s annual graduation and awards dinner, four scholarships winners and 16 graduates of the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation’s apprenticeship program were honored.

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades.