This is the Chippewa Hills Group
 This morning, I had the distinct pleasure of attending an Honors Program for all the Seniors from the MOISD Career Center.  This is our second child to come out of their programming; our first went 2 years for CADD, serving him quite well in his entry to Architecture and drafting.  I remember seeing some of his first remedial blueprints and being quite amazed; I see some things now and it is a complete foreign language to me - and I am in awe.  I might not understand a single line on the entire page, but my eyes shine with pride on the wonder of his craft, seeing the Wonder of his Creator come through his work.

This time, it's the Construction Trades.  Now my Basil isn't really going into Construction, but this was a perfect program for him as he goes on to Ferris for HVACR - (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration).  He honed onto what he was crafted for and is quite an apprentice, soaking up the Tradesman knowledge.

This past weekend, he stayed in Grand Rapids to represent his ISD in the SkillsUSA competition  along with three other fine gentlemen, comprising their construction team of 4.  Our Basil was the electrician.  The others were masons, plumber, and builders.  They all had to work together to build these little tiny houses from a pile of materials, being judged in both construction quality and knowledge via testing and interviews the evening before.  The had only a few hours to do the actual construction before judging began with zero input from spectators, especially their instructors.

They placed 4th, but I couldn't beam with any more pride for his forthright character and valiant respect for his teammates; There's no way first place would have made us happier.

He has looked up to Mike Rowe ever since we caught our very first episode of Dirty Jobs way back when and I am delighted that he is still around, making things better than ever for Tradesmen.  His MikeRoweWorks scholarships have given out over 3 Million dollars to motivated students pursuing the trades, a dying art in this STEM-obsessed educational system.  The Trades are practically begging for good men and women to pursue dreams of dignified work while some teachers (I know of this firsthand) and society put the trades on a lower shelf in myriads of ways, not to mention how badly Hollyweird punishes tradesmen.   Debunking the myths isn't that hard, but this post from the Art of Manliness does it much better than I ever could.

I  am profoundly grateful that our local ISD is available for students who want to pursue an honorable 'dirty' job, those who desire to work with their hands for a living. There is such dignity in a man or woman slowly piecing together a dwelling with wood and brick; designing that home to be lived in, gathering, laughing, loving, arguing; from the exuberance of a family Christmas to the tiptoe out of a newborns bedroom.  The knowledge to be able to wire a new stove for your daughter to bake cookies or the ability to repair a toilet after several matchbox cars were riding the waterfall with a gleeful toddler at the helm.  The skill to encourage a woman with a new hairdo or to help a wife get back home with her little charges in a newly safe car.

The construction trades teacher, Mr. Chris Battle, is another amazing Mike Rowe-type who came into Basil's life with just the right countenance at just the right time.  I am so grateful for him and all the teachers who devote their lives to children, sharing their knowledge of  blue collar craftsmanship - our Joe is eager to fall under his tutelage.   We are hopeful that, by the time Joe is ready to graduate, Harmel Academy will be up and running full steam.

I sat so proud in the audience today with fellow parents, watching our children receive the purple ropes of honor in all sorts of Trades - many of them who also competed in SkillsUSA within their own field.  Quite a few of  the students were dressed to the nines; yet just as many of them were sporting dirty steel-toes and jeans.  There was no shortage of callused hands among the teenagers which tells me that no matter how 'well' each dressed, these were hard workers.  I was honored to be among them each and every single one.  I have no doubt that, were the zombie apocalypse were to break out just then, I was for-sure in the camp of survival - these kids (and many of their parents) would take masterful care of us.

My mind never stops, especially when I get to an emotional road marker in the life of my children and today was no different.  When I went to the back to grab a glass of water, I saw that they had little Lemon-Poppyseed muffins. It might not mean much to anyone, but it was a tremendous gift to me for Lemon Poppyseed muffins became a tradition after the birth of all my kids.  With the first, I was starving and that's all the nurse had to offer tasted like heaven.  When the second came, I picked the Lemon Poppyseed and then by the rest, my birth story wasn't complete until I was snacking on a lemon muffin, dropping poppyseeds on a tiny little sleeping head.  God was generous enough to help me know that He has Basil right where He's calling him.


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