NORTH ANSON — Carrabec High School students are building skills for the future — one brick at a time.
Ten students in Jim Easler’s industrial technology class are learning the art and craft of masonry recently from Steve Mitchell, instructor and founder of the Maine School of Masonry in Avon.
What Carrabec students learned doing the precision work building a brick wall indoors as practice, will be used in the spring when they will construct a wall for the school’s portico, which also was built by students.
Students were taught how to build the brick leads,. or corners, of a wall, essential to stable construction, Mitchell said. They later learned how to fill in the corners.
The practice wall went up with cement bricks, reusable lime and sand mortar, but without the Portland cement used in real construction.
Frankie Musotic, a junior from Solon, said he signed up for the class because he eventually wants to build foundations for houses.
“I want to try building a house,” he said. “Knowing how to build the foundation is pretty important.”
Kenny White, a junior from New Portland who also worked building the portico, was also in the class.
“I like to work with my hands,” White said. “I’ll save a lot of money — I won’t have to pay somebody else to do it.”
Mitchell said he brought three of his masonry school students to help teach at Carrabec.
“We go around to different schools, mostly technical schools or high school that have a vocational instructor like this and give a four-day course on masonry,” Mitchell said in the industrial arts building at Carrabec. “We give them the experience of masonry in case they might want to take that on for a career.”
He said it is important to teach young people the trade because those skills will be needed as the state’s older stone and brick buildings and monuments deteriorate and will require repair and restoration as older masons retire.
“We don’t have that many masons out there now to do the work,” he said. “This is a trade that has been handed down through the generations from fathers and grandfathers, now in the last 30 years, kids don’t want to be masons. We’re losing 2,000 masons a year through the United States and we’re only filling them with 200.”
School Principal Regina Campbell said she and her husband discovered the masonry school during a summer drive through western Maine.
“We wanted to bring in as many different career options as we could for our students,” Campbell said. “Some of the students see it as a viable career pathway, which is what we’re all about — not every kid is going to a four-year college, nor should they.”
The $400 fee to Mitchell was paid for through the school’s school improvement grant, she said.
The program began during the summer when th students built an 11-foot, 6-inch tall, 16-foot long covered entrance to the school. The portico was built by five high school students who took Easler’s class as a three-week summer school elective.
Easler said his industrial technology classes serve about 85 students at the high school and middle school, who work in wood, metal and now, brick and mortar. There also is an integrated math and shop class to broaden career horizons, he said.
The School Administrative District 74 serves the towns of Anson, Embden, Solon and New Portland.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367