BUFORD — A "toothpick bridge" Casey Ginn designed in the third-grade ignited the youngster’s interests in architecture and drafting.
Today, with a national award in his back pocket, the West Hall High School senior is looking to cross to a career in either architecture or residential drafting.
Ginn, son of Brenda and Gary Ginn, was awarded the bronze medal, or third place, in architectural drafting at the annual National Leadership and Skills conference and SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City, Mo., on June 28.
He was the only area high school student to place in the competition.
"Casey is a great example for all young people, and I know he demonstrates the best in career and technical education," Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle later said.
He worked this past summer — has his own office, in fact — at Precision Plan Designs, a residential drafting and design company off Hamilton Mill Road in Buford.
Ginn’s work experience also counts toward the Honors Mentorship Program class he has this semester at West Hall. The school system started the program two years ago to match up career-minded juniors and seniors with professionals in the fields they are interested in pursuing.
Ginn certainly fits that bill.
As a third-grader, he helped sketch out the bridge design on graph paper in a gifted education class.
His efforts were part of a class competition to see whose bridge could support the most weight — and Ginn’s bridge won.
Ginn later talked to a friend who was an architect and found that not only did he enjoy designing, "I could make money doing something I liked."
He honed his skills in high school, taking drafting and architectural classes.
Now, he’s at the point where college decisions must be made soon.
To become an architect, Ginn said he is looking at eight years of schooling and an internship. Residential drafting will take two to three years of schooling. Those trained in residential drafting can design a home that is 5,000 square feet in size or smaller and "not anything over three stories," Ginn said.
He’s taking classes now at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood and is looking at pursuing studies at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta.
Ginn said he credits his work at Precision Plan Designs for his success at the national competition, where he was given the floor plan of a small "weekend cabin" and told to make certain changes.
"I was treating it like another day of work," he said of the four-hour effort. "The only difference was I couldn’t go to someone and ask questions."
Ginn said he calculated judges’ points and expected at least a fifth-place finish.
The third-place finish was pleasing. "I was excited to get that," he said.
His employers also are happy with Ginn’s work.
"It has worked out great," said Donald Cole, a partner in the company. "He is very advanced to be in an entry-level position."