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Promise or prediction: Jones Construction technology students head to nationals
by Jason Collins
Apr 20, 2014 | 22 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Daniel Barter gets help from Juan Martinez with the lighting as they work on a fortune-telling machine as part of a project at Jones High. Barter is one of the team members heading to the SkillsUSA national competition later this year.
Daniel Barter gets help from Juan Martinez with the lighting as they work on a fortune-telling machine as part of a project at Jones High. Barter is one of the team members heading to the SkillsUSA national competition later this year.
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Emma Downing brushes stain onto the outside of a fortune-telling machine. This project earned the construction technology team a first place win at state. Now they head to nationals.
Emma Downing brushes stain onto the outside of a fortune-telling machine. This project earned the construction technology team a first place win at state. Now they head to nationals.
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Maggie, a fortune-telling machine, has undergone several improvements and will undergo more before she is taken to the national competition later this month.
Maggie, a fortune-telling machine, has undergone several improvements and will undergo more before she is taken to the national competition later this month.
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BEEVILLE – The question isn’t whether Zoltar can speak but whether Maggie will win.

At least that is what is on the minds of the seven students standing in the construction technology shop at A.C. Jones High looking over their fortune-telling machine.

A first place win at state has propelled them onto the national stage to compete in the SkillsUSA national contest.

The question that their machine cannot answer is “Will they win?”

“I hope so,” John Garza said first out of the group.

Their teacher is quick to correct him though.

“There is no hoping,” said Hector Martinez, who was just hired this past year to teach the class. “We are going to take nationals.”

Martinez said that he made these students a promise. “I told them I would take them to nationals. I want these kids to be the best in the United States.”

While Martinez will give credit to students, they give credit to him for taking them this far.

Martinez said, “I told them the first day I met with them I would take them to nationals. They didn’t know I knew all the red tape.”

He has fulfilled his obligation but now it’s up to these youngsters.”

“We are going to do the best we can,” said Emma Downing, who has been selected to present the project to the judges and give the seven-minute descriptive speech.

Their project is one familiar to most fans of Tom Hanks or anyone old enough to see the movie “Big” which featured a similar machine named Zoltar Speaks.

It’s a fortune-telling machine complete with manikin and crystal ball.

Each of the structure’s panels took students three days to carve out, with the entire fortune-teller being constructed in about six weeks.

The wiring is hidden behind the wooden doors located on the back, allowing for a seamless blend of past and present technology.

The woman behind the glass — now named Maggie — wears the same red coat that the students do.

Alexis Gonzales, another of the students, styled her hair. Emma painted her nails and Alexis found the red glasses she wears.

The project is already the best in the state.

They have the trophy from the SkillsUSA state competition last month.

“We are best in Texas already,” Martinez said.

Members of this team are: Emma Downing, Margaret Downing, Daniel Barter, Alexis Gonzales, Jonathon Huser, Victoria Mercado and John Garza.

However, Martinez knows that in order to be the best in the nation they need to add a couple more features.

“We are going to add the audio to it and make her hand move up and down. We were going to add the ticket dispenser to it but the ticket would extend beyond the four-foot maximum. We would then have a bunch of points taken off.”

Emma, who also will provide the fortune-teller’s voice, added, “We are also thinking about doing the curtain.”

For these youngsters, this will be their first trip to the national competition.

For Martinez, it is almost old hat.

This former Robstown instructor has been to nationals nine times and won once.

In all, about 90 students are enrolled in Martinez’s class at Jones High.

These students are the select few who worked on this project, he said, looking at them.

A challenge they had to overcome was that not all of these youngsters are in the same class.

“We are split up in different classes. So what one class didn’t finish, another would pick up,” Emma said.

These students spent about 200 hours on the project.

They will take their project, which disassembles into three pieces, to Kansas City for the competition June 22-27.

“Winning over there — we are going to have a lot of competition,” he said.

The pressure is definitely on — especially for Emma who will again give the presentation speech to the judges.

“I think Emma is going to start sweating once she sees the lights and camera,” Martinez said.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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