Four expert bricklayers

Think laying bricks is easy? Think again.

Getting the bricks aligned, level and perfectly spaced requires multiple calculations and the skill to work with trowels and mortar. And to do all that quickly without making mistakes requires even more skill.

Eric Hooper, Rawls Shirley, Kevin Hall and Rafeal Camps, all students at the Chester County Career Center, do it about as well as anyone. They recently swept top honors at the state masonry competition, taking first, second and third place and setting a state record by doing that.

Hooper, a senior, took third, junior Shirley grabbed second, and fellow junior Hall snared the state championship, sending him to the national competition in June. Camps also fared well, placing 11th.

In masonry contests, students are required to build a brick structure in a specific amount of time. They are judged on how closely they follow a design, the accuracy of their measurements and cleanliness, among other things.

The Chester crew was competing against 60 students from masonry programs across the state. Last year, the highest a Chester County masonry competitor placed was 14th, so this year was a real triumph.

All four Chester bricklayers are in their third year of the masonry program. This year has been a big one for them in both local and statewide contests, with four plaques, 10 trophies, three medals and an award shaped like a golden brick finding places in their trophy cases since November.

Congratulations to these talented guys. This team is solid as a brick.