LAWRENCE — Greater Lawrence Tech Landscape Construction students recently debuted their masonry skills at the 20th annual Massachusetts Trowel Trades Competition.
Organized by the Massachusetts Trowel Trades Association, the competition tests students’ abilities to complete masonry challenges in a set amount of time.
This year’s competition was held on May 8 at Whittier Tech in Haverhill, where approximately 90 students from seven area schools had three hours to complete individual brick and block challenges, or a hardscaping design in teams.
Masonry, also known as trowel trades, can be seen in office buildings, homes, schools, factories and municipal buildings. The work involves block and brick laying, tile setting, concrete finishing and stone setting.
Sophomores Matthew Guarino, of Methuen, and Chris Tineo, of Lawrence, represented GLTS in the hardscaping challenge — the first time students have competed in a masonry challenge, as GLTS just launched its horticulture/landscape program last year.
“Landscape construction encompasses masonry in that students in this field will be working on projects that include laying tiles or building walls,” said horticulture/landscape instructor Peter Hinrichs. “In this technical area of study, we’re giving students the skills to create beautiful landscape designs — from walls, to patios to sidewalks to planting — so the Trowel Trades Competition was a great way for kids to get this hands on experience.”
Hardscaping teams quickly got to work laying paving stones and building a retaining wall, using bricks and varying shades of gray stones to create their designs.
Throughout the competition, judges surveyed students’ work, giving it a thorough review before declaring winners at the three-hour mark.
Although GLTS didn’t place, students were able to take away pointers for next year, and had fun meeting their peers from surrounding schools.
“At first I was feeling nervous and our team was going slow,” Tineo said. “But overall it went alright and I’m proud of what we accomplished. We didn’t have a ton of practice prior to the competition, so I learned it takes a lot of patience and teamwork.”
Students who placed first, second and third earned masonry tools donated by schools and industry partners. Every student, however, regardless of how they did in the competition, was able to take home a tool that they could use in their future work.
Other participating schools included Whittier, Essex Tech, Greater Lowell Tech, Shawsheen Valley Tech, Bay Path Regional Tech and Montachusett Tech.