Senior puts another brick in the wall of his professional career at Capital Region BOCES

A Capital Region BOCES senior is building his future one brick at a time thanks to Capital Region BOCES and its partnerships with area unions, colleges and businesses.

Brendon Mazza attends the Building Trades program at the Career and Technical Education Center – Schoharie Campus where he was introduced to masonry last year through a partnership between BOCES, the Upstate Masonry Institute (UMI) and the Bricklayer & Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 2 Union.

“I find a lot of joy in it. It’s fun, and you can build a lot of things and be creative,” he said. 

Upon completion of a unit on masonry last school year, the Cobleskill-Richmondville High School senior took part in an internship during the summer at the BAC. He is now planning to take part in work-based learning there later this school year. 

During the internship, Mazza worked eight hours a day at the Bricklayer’s headquarters in Latham, learning the trade in greater detail and finetuning his skill set.

“I take a lot of pride in the work and find it to be therapeutic,” he said.

Daren Gulliver, training director for the BAC, said Mazza has the right demeanor and outlook for the work.

“He is an excellent kid with a great, positive attitude and skill set,” Gulliver said.

Larry Vacala, Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), stated in a September magazine article that the shortage of masons in America is critical and growing. He encouraged his membership to do more in recruiting the next generation of bricklayers and masons.

Efforts like those undertaken by the BAC and UMI in conjunction with Capital Region BOCES aim to do just that.

Through a masonry exposure initiative, students in the Building Trades program at BOCES get a foundation of knowledge about the industry while working for representatives of the BAC for a week in the BOCES classroom.

“The purpose of our exposure initiative is to educate the construction tech students in masonry while informing them as individuals,” said UMI’s Amanda Bedian.

Capital Region BOCES Managing Program Coordinator-Business & Community Partnerships Nancy Liddle said BOCES has nearly 400 students from 27 area school districts enrolled in construction programs. 

“Providing the masonry training in conjunction is expanding their resumes and building strong, transferable skill sets,” she said.

Gulliver praised BOCES for its efforts and for the quality of its graduates.

“People who come to us from BOCES already have the mindset to go into the trades and come into our program with trade proficiency,” he said.

For Mazza, the partnership between BOCES, UMI and the BAC has been life changing.

“I would have never known about masonry if it weren’t for BOCES and the masonry unit last year,” he said.