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March 2007

Making the Grade

He's a great kid," said Greg Sanders, vice president of academics at Southwest Applied Technology College in Cedar City, Utah. "He's a hard worker; he never gives [anyone] any problems. I wish we had 100 more in our program just like Casey."

This past fall, Casey Schmidt graduated from Cedar High School and headed off to the University of Utah to study mechanical engineering. He left with a resume full of interests and accomplishments. In the summer months, he played soccer, ran cross-country and went rock climbing as often as possible; during the winter months, Schmidt was a ski and snowboard instructor at the Brian Head Ski Resort.

Schmidt's interest in masonry was cultivated by his older brother, Scott, and his instructor, Jason McDonald. "Mr. McDonald taught me lots of fun things. He's given us all great opportunities," Schmidt said.

"I don't know that I'll make masonry a career, but it's a skill I think I will always use," Schmidt explained. "It has certainly given me an appreciation for the work and time that has been put into the [masonry] buildings I see every day."

This past summer, Schmidt helped his brother on a masonry project and helped a friend build a brick wall.

"I'll probably take a part-time masonry job next summer to help with school expenses, and I'm sure that someday I will use my masonry skills in building part of my own house," Schmidt said.

Schmidt represented the State of Utah in the national masonry contest held this past summer in Kansas City, Mo., in conjunction with the SkillsUSA Leadership Conference.

"Nationals was a really neat experience, and it was amazing to see what everyone else could do," Schmidt reflected. "I hope that, in the future, I can go and compete again or, heck, just watching it would be interesting."

Schmidt's latest interest is wildland firefighting. In addition to schoolwork and all of his other activities, he worked this past summer at the Color Country Fire Cache. Then, for the last few weeks of the summer, he worked with wildland firefighting handcrews.

"The excitement and thrill is what really gets me into this, along with the thought that we are saving wildland forests and sometimes people's homes," Schmidt said.



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