December 2008: Making the Grade

Words: Dan KamysDecember 2008 Making the Grade

A Young Mason

When Raul Torrez enrolled in an "Introduction to Masonry" class as a sophomore at Harlingen High School, no one knew to expect such a high level of achievement.

"I'm really proud of this young man," says Torrez's instructor, Victor Santillan. "By the end of his junior year, he had won the Texas State competition and advanced to the National Masonry Contest at the SkillsUSA conference in Kansas City."

Between the end of the school year and the national contest, Torrez teamed with Santillan to build a block retaining wall for the high school's marquee.

Information about the Masonry Industry Raul Torrez is an excellent student and even better mason. Information about the Masonry Industry

"He's a good worker," says Santillan. "Over the course of two weeks, Raul and another student laid eight-inch block and modular brick to build that wall. It gave me a chance to work with him outside the classroom and for him to get even more experience before the contest."

Torrez, now a high school senior, is in the advanced masonry program, which is dual-enrolled with Texas State Technical College, enabling him to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Santillan has sponsored 12 students in the SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest and six consecutive state representatives.

"I hope Raul maintains his interest in the program," says Santillan. "He has the ability to improve just enough to win the contest next year."

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