Making the Grade
Luis Martell started out as a student in the auto mechanics program at The Edison School of Applied Technology in Rochester, N.Y. At the start of his senior year, Martell transferred into the masonry program. Ten months later, he was participating in the SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest.
“Luis Martell is an amazing story,” says his masonry instructor, Frank Arena. “Luis’ instructor in auto mechanics, Phillip Stoklosa, was a steadying influence in Luis’ life. I know he was planning on the prospects of Martell competing in SkillsUSA’s auto mechanics competition. Instead, at the start of his senior year, Luis asked to transfer to masonry. Phil did not stand in his way. He encouraged him. Phil deserves a lot of credit for mentoring this young man.
“From the very beginning, Luis demonstrated amazing hands-on and creative skills in our masonry class,” Arena continues. “And, obviously, he was motivated. In just seven months, he qualified to compete in the regional SkillsUSA competition at Alfred State University, and he won it.”
The following month, Martell competed in, and won, the New York State SkillsUSA masonry competition. As a result, in January 2009, Martell became the first masonry student from The Edison School of Applied Technology to compete in the national masonry contest. He tied for highest score on the written test and placed 15th overall.
Martell is also a member of The Youth Construction Initiative Program of New York State. The program trains students for careers in construction. While participating in the program, Martell helped construct a house, demonstrating transit layout skills, blocklaying, and cement finishing.
During the summer program, Martell learned to operate a back-hoe, poured a concrete basement floor, and formed and poured concrete sidewalks.
Last August, Martell enrolled in the two-year building construction program at Alfred State University. It has been during the SkillsUSA regional masonry competition that Martell saw the campus and met the program’s administrator.
“I do what I like to do which is work,” Martell says. He works numerous side jobs, he says, and particularly enjoys working with ceramic and marble tile, landscaping stones and pavers.
“My teacher, Frank Arena, has made me the man I am today,” he says. “Through his love and determination to see me succeed, he has made me open my eyes and has made me want to work harder and better than I have ever wanted before.”
“We are extremely honored that Luis has represented our school the way he has,” says Arena. “His goal is to become an independent contractor. I’m confident Luis can achieve anything that he sets his mind to do.”
- 41February 2016 By Jeff Buczkiewicz, President, MCAA After a very prolonged recession that some have referred to as the Great Recession, the construction industry, in general, has had to deal with a different issue: not having enough well-qualified tradesmen to complete all the work they would like to bid on.…
- 39February 2013 Brick and Block Investing in Ourselves Shown is Major Ogilvie (center) introducing Sen. Bill Nelson (right) to Charles Newsome with Johnson Concrete Co. on The Hill in 2012. A joint effort between the MCAA and the NCMA will result in more research, increased education and much-needed promotion. By…
- 35August 2015 As a skilled labor shortage in the masonry industry continues to frustrate, we are reminded in this article of why the masonry trade is such a viable option for young people today. Masonry is an indispensable trade. Without working masons to construct important new buildings and perform needed…