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Maple Ridge students receive top honours in masonry

Received Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Masonry
Gabriel Fitzpatrick and Shae Laing both received the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Masonry. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Two students in the SD42 masonry program have received awards for their outstanding work.

Gabriel Fitzpatrick and Shae Laing both received the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Masonry.

The award – usually only given out to one student each year – was awarded to both of them based on a conglomeration of their work throughout the year.

Laing, a Grade 12 student at Garibaldi Secondary School, built a Gothic style archway about 2.5 metres wide and 3 metres tall. Fitzpatrick, Grade 11 at Maple Ridge Secondary School, built a Roman-style archway, about 2.5 metres wide by 1.5 metres high, along with a wall using different brick styles including the Flemish bond, English bond, a stack bond and typical running bonds.

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Brad Dingler, SD42’s trades and apprenticeship coordinator, credits the students for their dedication to the program and also course instructor Tim Brotherston, who, explained Dingler, pushes the students beyond their capabilities.

Brotherston has been with the program for the past five years. KPU has been a partner with the program for six years. This is the first time students in the district have been recognized for their work.

“He’s truly an artist in the craft. And what he has taught both Gab and Shae is that artistry,” noted Dingler.

Both Laing and Fitzpatrick wanted to learn something more “hands-on” at school. Laing because she is more artistic and Fitzpatrick because he wanted to try something new.

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In addition the bonus of not being inside a building all day and being able to create your own things appealed to both students.

Fitzpatrick said he enjoyed working with Brotherston.

“He’s always pushing you because he know what you are capable of doing,” he said.

He also found the work challenging, especially trying to figure out where to lay the bricks and what each pattern looked like.

“Definitely the spacing between bricks, that’s a hard one because if you get one wider than the other one, then one’s not going to fit. It’s all got to be the same,” he described.

Both Laing and Fitzpatrick are well beyond the Level 1 designation that students their age group would normally be working at. They are into a Level 3 designation, which is a third year apprenticeship skill set, said Dingler. The next step for them will be getting out into the work force, if that is something they wish to do.

What I am thinking about when I am teaching these kids is when they get onto a job site it’s a big step to go from being a labourer to being somebody who’s working on the trowel,” explained Brotherston.

“The more experience I can get them working with trowels, the sooner they are actually going to become a tradesman dong the actual job as opposed to a labourer,” he said.

Not only does Brotherston bring a wealth of knowledge, patience and skill to the program, added Dingler, he starts them on the trowels and tools on day one.

“We want to get them working in the shop so that they realize what they need to know. Once they realize that they need how to measure and lay out the work then they are interested in doing the book-work in the classroom,” continued Brotherston.

SD42 is the only school district operating a high school post secondary masonry program in the province.

Brotherston is predicting an abundance of opportunities in the future for students like Fitzpatrick and Laing. He noted a lot of people in the industry are retiring because they are older and the area is booming in housing construction. Contractors are currently contacting him looking for workers.

Dingler can’t say enough of the high calibre course available to students in the district.

“In my opinion, it’s as much artistic as much as it is a trade,” he said.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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