Local Student Earns Silver in Competition

Superintendent Heidi Riccio is pleased to share that a team of Essex Tech students came in second place in hardscaping at the 20th annual Trowel Trades Competition yesterday, and another placed third for her brick and block wall.

Masonry students from seven career technical schools competed against each other Wednesday at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School. Organized by the Massachusetts Trowel Trades Association, the competition tests students’ abilities to complete masonry challenges in a set amount of time.

“This whole day is about the kids,” said David Collins, a masonry teacher at Essex Tech and President of the MTTA. “Everyone here is a winner. They’re showing how well they’ve learned their trade. It’s not all about getting the job completely done, its the way that they work. It’s about if they have the proper techniques and they do a nice job.”

Masonry, also known as trowel trades, can be seen in office buildings, homes, schools, factories and municipal buildings. The work involves block and brick laying, tile setting, concrete finishing and stone setting.

“This competition tests students’ abilities in a number of areas. They have to incorporate measurement, conversion and math while working to create something that’s aesthetically pleasing but also functional,” Superintendent Riccio said. “It’s hard work, but students have fun doing it and they get to meet and learn from other kids in their technical area of study.”

Sophomores, juniors and seniors competed individually at the event in a traditional block and brick masonry competition, where they were tasked with building a wall.

Students from all three grades also competed in teams of three in a hardscaping competition, during which they laid paving stones, designed and built a retaining wall.

In both competitions, first, second and third place winners received plaques and tools donated by school and industry partners.

Three students, Danielle Baker, a junior, of Lynn; Michael Chavis, a junior, of Winthrop; and Jacob Rust, a junior, of Beverly came in second place in the hardscaping competition. Natalie Vardaro, a sophomore, of Danvers came in third place in the sophomore brick and block masonry competition.

“We learned a lot,” Rust said. “We prepared so much, and learned to work together as a team. We pointed out each other’s mistakes.”

Other participating schools included Whittier Tech, Greater Lowell Tech, Shawsheen Valley Tech, Bay Path Regional Tech, Greater Lawrence Technical School and Montachusett Tech.

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