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Making the Grade

A high school senior-to-be, 18-year-old Eric Munoz of Harlingen, Texas, is one of many masonry students who have had the great fortune to be mentored by instructor Victor Santillan.

"I don't know what it is, but I've always been blessed by great kids who come into our program," says Santillan. Of course, he might have something to do with it. Santillan has been a masonry instructor for 17 years and, in over half of those years, he has sponsored the Texas state high school champion at the National Masonry Contest.

This year, Munoz earned Texas' first-place honors by beating a rival student who had placed third and second in the two previous years.

"It was Eric's first time at the state competition, but he acted like he'd been there before. Nothing seems to make Eric nervous when he is competing," says Santillian.

After competing for the first time in the National Masonry Contest, held in conjunction with the 41st annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Munoz joined other students in a summer project. Under Santillan's leadership, they completed the brick work on a new house, laying an estimated 17,000 brick.

"I hope this extra work will help me improve my skills," Munoz says. "I want to compete again in Kansas City, but I know that Mr. Santillan is always developing good masons."



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