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October 14, 2009 12:37 PM CDT

2009 AMCA Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony

Apprentices celebrate their great accomplishment


The 2009 AMCA Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony and Celebration was held on September 26, 2009 at the Glendale Civic Center with the largest graduating class since the program’s inception in 1994. 185 guests were in attendance, including 14 apprentices who made their way to the podium to receive their credentials as fully graduated journeymen.

“This class of 2009 is an outstanding class. They have made their presence felt on the local and state levels. Their contributions will be felt in our industry in the years to come,” shared Glenn Hottmann with G & G Enterprises and Master of Ceremonies for the evening. “Although money is tight and it’s difficult to even imagine sponsoring an apprentice or contributing to the program, we all must remember that without educating our future workforce there will be a lack of journeymen to support the needs of our industry. I’m a firm believer that without sacrifices, it’s difficult to achieve your goals.”

Encouragement was a common theme throughout the evening’s speeches. Mike Meskimen with Thunderbird Masonry and AMCA President encouraged all apprentices to not give up and to keep going to class. “Apprentices here tonight who are still in the program, we need you to go to class. Even with the current economic conditions, and when your employer tells you there’s no work out there right now, don’t lose the passion and commitment that is required to succeed. The work will eventually come. Stay in school and continue to learn—and take yourself all the way to graduation like these graduating apprentices have.”

Lori Maximenko, Executive Director for the AMCA, concluded the evening’s speeches by acknowledging how hard the graduates have worked to achieve their goal. She talked about character and how achieving success as a mason develops character and strength. “At this particular time in history the fight is bigger than ever. So, as an industry, we have to be stronger than ever. Part of that strength comes from training more masons than we ever have.” Lori encouraged everyone to get involved in workforce development efforts. “We can’t train more masons without contractors putting apprentices into the program and suppliers providing materials and funding and people serving on committees and volunteering at events. We can’t do it without all of you.”

Each instructor provided a short comment about their graduates. The graduates included:

Armando Arrieta – Pioneer Masonry, Inc.
Armando is one person that has surpassed all the expectations both in theory class and in lab. He has been a great classmate and student to his instructors during his three years.

Candido Barraza – G & G Enterprises
Candido learned to work very well with the block. Throughout his three years, he has honed his skills to become a skilled mason. Candido is also very respectful of his classmates and has a lot of potential to go far in this industry.

Nicolas Castro – Pioneer Masonry, Inc.
Nicolas was an exceptional student. He has done well in competitions and has a bright future in this industry.

Mario Estrada – Rhino Masonry
Mario is another person whom Joaquin was fortunate enough to work with. He too is hard working, responsible and lays block extremely well. Anyone who will have the pleasure to work with Mario in the future is fortunate.

Miguel Garcia – G & G Enterprises
Miguel showed that it does not matter what the problem is, you can persevere through it with diligence and hard work. He has truly succeeded in this program.

Gildardo Leyva, Jr. – Sutter Masonry
Gildardo had excellent performance in class and lab. He has molded his skills over the three years and turned into a skilled craftsman. Gildardo has been an exceptional companion to all his classmates.

Fernando Lopez-Medina – Sutter Masonry
Fernando also started out slowly. But after encouragement and guidance from all the instructors, Fernando found his passion and has become a skilled mason.

Hector Ontiveros – Canyon State Masonry, Inc.
Like some of his classmates, Hector started off a little slow. But with guidance and a little pressure from the instructors, his work greatly improved allowing him to become an excellent mason.

Carlos Raymundo – Sunnyside Masonry
Carlos was always attentive in class. He has interest in becoming a great foreman where he can utilize his superior masonry skills.

Efren Reyes – Carlson Masonry, Inc.
Efren started very slowly in the masonry industry but in the end put all his heart and desire in, and demonstrated that he really does have a passion for this industry. Because of this, he has succeeded.

Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez – Fyffe Masonry & Plastering, Inc.
Jose was always cooperative in class, willing to take instruction and guidance. By listening to his instructors, he developed into a qualified mason. Jose was always kind to his fellow classmates and will have a bright future.

Hernan Ruiz – Sutter Masonry, Inc.
Hernan has truly impressed the instructors. He finished the apprenticeship program in only two years. He has immense ability and works very clean. Hernan was a top-notch student.

Octavio Soto – Rhino Masonry
Octavio is a hard worker who takes time to do a job but does it well. And, after three years his speed and skill have improved a lot. He truly has excelled as a mason.

Julio (Cesar) Urquidy – Rhino Masonry
Cesar has not only been taught by Joaquin but also had the chance to work with him for several years. He is a hard worker, responsible, and has many masonry talents.

As the graduates received their certificate and exited the stage, they shook hands with their instructor, Joaquin Reyes, their program sponsor, and other AMCA representatives. The ceremony was followed by dancing and a raffle.

The AMCA wishes to congratulate the graduating class of 2009 and each of their sponsors. It has been an honor and a privilege to educate and train these gentlemen over the past three years.

For more information and to view photos of the ceremony, visit

About the Author

Lori Maximenko is the Executive Director for the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association.


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