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Making the Grade

Steven Stirn has a perfect attendance record at school, and he's striving to be the best mason he can be.

Stirn is a senior at Southeastern Career Center in Versailles, Ind. As a tech school, Southeastern teaches all phases of construction; in fact, only a small portion of the curriculum is dedicated to masonry. Once he decided on masonry, however, Stirn dedicated himself to learning the trade — and the school dedicated itself to assisting his needs.

As a sophomore, Stirn started competing in brick masonry.

"I think that experience really helped him," says Gary Payne, his first-year masonry instructor at Southeastern. "And I don't think he'd mind me saying that he surprised everyone, including himself, by winning the Indiana state (SkillsUSA-VICA) competition and advancing to the national contest last year. We are very proud of Steve and his accomplishments."

Payne has been an instructor for 20 years. "Steve was our first mason to compete nationally," he says.

Rob Truesdell, Stirn's second- and third-year instructor at Southeastern Career Center, says of Stirn, "His five-year perfect attendance record is amazing. More importantly, he's come a long way in our program. He just seems to get better every day."

Finishing up his third-year in the building trades program, Stirn is in the work-release program and works part-time for J. D. Masonry while he stays active in Future Farmers of America.

Stirn will forgo hopes of returning to the national masonry contest this year by instead participating in the SkillsUSA-VICA TeamWorks competition as his team's mason.

TeamWorks is the first team-oriented competition at the SkillsUSA Championships that encourages exploration of various building trades. The event tests technical skills in the masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing trades, as well as the business organizational skills of four individuals who must come together and work as a team.

Stirn hopes to continue a growing tradition as Southeast Career Tech has been represented in various categories of the national competitions in each of the past four years.



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