By MARY ANN O'TOOLE HOLLEY
There was excitement in the air with the beginning of a new school year at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Catholic School in Florissant, but it wasn’t coming just from students and staff.
A dozen apprentices with Tile, Marble and Terrazzo Workers Local 18 were enthusiastic and proud of their contribution to the school: a new quarry tile floor in the gymnasium kitchen and repairs to the linoleum basketball court.
One could almost smell the fresh pencil shavings as apprentices put the finishing touches on the kitchen floor, then moved to primping and repairing loose linoleum on the gymnasium floor.
“It’s good for the school and good for the apprentices,” said Mike Weber, president of Local 18 and a member of the St. Rose Philippine parish. “They get to practice their trade in a real setting and the school benefits from the improvements.”
Weber said the apprentices usually practice their skills in the classroom, laying tile, grouting and finishing a project, only to destroy it afterward. At the school, their work is visible and will be there for a long, long time, Weber said.
The apprentices worked three days on the projects, and, Weber said, getting out of the classroom is a great experience for the apprentices.
Greg Keeney had been an apprentice for just six days when he found himself working on a his first “real project” that would benefit so many.
“The first thing I did when I came in here was run and take a look at the floor,” Keeney said. “It’s pretty cool, because I have mainly been training as a grouting assistant.”
Kevin Carpenter, the school’s athletic director, said the kitchen had an old concrete floor, but when Weber heard work was needed to spruce up the school, he volunteered.
Dal-Tile donated the tile and materials, and the apprentices did the rest, Weber said.
The gymnasium, a retro-court typical of a 1960s Catholic parochial schools, is nothing fancy, but is the largest gym in the North County Catholic Youth Association district. This year, the school will host the girls’ basketball city/county games.
“Parochial schools have their own challenges, and whenever we get help, it’s good,” said Carpenter.
Need tile work? Non-profits welcome
When Mike Weber, president of Local 18, finished the project at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, it came to him that it benefits everyone when the apprentices donate their skills.
“I decided we’d like to do more of this,” Weber said. “So, we’re asking for parochial schools and non-profit organizations to contact us if work is needed.”
Weber said they will consider each request individually and determine which is the best fit for the apprentices.
Pass it on. If you know of a school, church or non-profit that needs tile or related work, contact Weber at the Tile, Marble and Terrazzo Workers Local 18.