Training News

Brick Jobs Corps Students Design, Craft Major DOL Award

Journal: Issue 2 - 2011
From left, IMI Bricklaying Instructor Jason Laverty explains how to grind the stone when it comes from the saw to Job Corps Brick Vocation students Daryl Lidwin and Eric Cruz. Daryl Lidwin, left, grinds the stone with a 4-inch diamond bowl wheel. Eric Cruz polishes the stone with a 4-inch rubbing stone.

In a moving ceremony on May 10th, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Hilda L. Solis presented handcrafted stone awards to 215 DOL employees to honor their efforts as first responders and in the search and recovery operations that followed the 2010 Upper Big Branch (West Virginia) mining tragedy in which 29 brave coal miners tragically perished.

The awards were designed and created by students from the Brick Vocation of the Westover Job Corps Center in Chicopee, Massachusetts under the direction of IMI Bricklaying Instructor and Local 3 Massachusetts/Maine/New Hampshire/Rhode Island member Jason M. Laverty. After brainstorming to determine the award’s physical characteristics, the students chose Goshen stone as the principal material, the regional name for a mica schist type of granite often encountered by coal miners. The stone, which the team would eventually shape into shards of coal, was intended to reflect both the legacy of the late miners with the strength of purpose demonstrated by DOL employees in the wake of the tragedy.

Brick students at the Westover Job Corps Center in Massachusetts created 215 awards, which U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis presented to Labor Department employees to commemorate their work in the aftermath of the 2010 West Virginia coal mining disaster that claimed the lives of 29 coal miners. To complete each award (right), students used a series of tools, including, from left, a DA sander, a stone chisel, a 3-lb. hammer, and a 4-inch angle grinder with a diamond bowl wheel.

In executing their design, students used hammers and chisels to reduce 2-by-3 foot stone slabs into 6-by-6 inch workable pieces. Next, they fashioned the stones into coal fragments. Finally, following eight different polishing techniques, the stones were ready to be affixed with the Labor Department medallion.

Secretary Solis personally thanked the students for their hard work in developing the meaningful award. Via satellite, the students were able to take part in the award ceremony and share their story about the award’s design process.
The team’s sentiments were fittingly summed up by Brother Laverty, who said, “The awards were made in honor and gratitude to the men that lost their lives as they worked to fuel this great country through their efforts in mining. This opportunity to honor them was not taken lightly. The Westover Job Corps Center’s Brick Vocation, in cooperation with the International Masonry Institute… is proud to honor those that worked to ensure that the lives of all Americans are better.”

A program of the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people, ages 16 to 24, many with limited resources, learn a career and earn a high school diploma or GED. The program serves 60,000 students at 124 centers.

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