“While working with the apprentices over the last three years, I have had the privilege of learning a bit about each of their unique stories,” said Stephen Lefaver, Director of Apprenticeship and Training for PDC 30's JATF, of the 23 apprentices issued Certificates of Completion at the 2011 graduation ceremony on January 19th.
Held at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, Illinois, the event celebrated the painters, drywall finishers, and glaziers who succeeded in their goals of becoming journey workers.
These stories and goals, in fact, seemed to drive many of the speeches throughout the evening. “Yet while your individual stories may vary, it is clear that all of them share the same basic components; components specific to what has brought you here today,” recounted Lefaver in opening remarks made at the ceremony. “Finding and maintaining employment in a down-turned economy – while also learning a new trade – is difficult,” he added, “but each of you accepted the challenges and overcame the obstacles in order to meet your goals.”
Kicking off the ceremony was a speech by IUPAT Finishing Trades Institute special guest, Gregg Renne. Select graduates were then presented with special recognitions. The “Perfect Attendance Award” was presented by Steve Lefaver and the JATF staff to the individual who attended all 60 consecutive classes over their three-year apprenticeship. Gerardo Ponce received the award.
The “Secretary-Treasurer Award” was presented to Stephen Baker. PDC 30’s BM/ST Charles Anderson, along with the JATF Labor Trustees Lionel Espinoza and Mark Leonard, honored Baker for his record of leadership and dedication to the union.
Each year, the employer trustees present the “Norm Hankes Award.” This year, it was awarded to Jonathon Siliskie. JATF Chairman Bill Nielsen and the Executive Director of the Finishing Contractors Association of Illinois Mark Palmer presented the award, along with the JATF management trustees Kurt Hand and Kelly Oates.
Lefaver – with help from Renne, Anderson, and Nielsen – presented the award for the 2011 “Apprentice of the Year,” honoring the apprentice whose overall performance ranked highest among the group. “To be eligible for this prestigious award, apprentices must work to produce outstanding records of classroom performance, work history, and attendance throughout their apprenticeship,” explained Lefaver. “In addition to these key components, this year’s winner also demonstrated dedication to the trade through participation in additional training and leadership opportunities, such as union participation, political activism, and community service.” Gerardo Ponce received the award (pictured, right).
“Each graduate here has already succeeded in accomplishing their first career goal: to become a journey worker,” stated Lefaver after the presentation of Graduation Certificates. “But this is just the beginning. If you each continue to set your goals, create a plan, and accept all challenges, you will be well on your way to a successful and rewarding career in the finishing trades.”
Graduating apprentices were: painters: Stephen Baker, Kevin W. Bott, Rodolfo Diaz, Jeffrey A Dorelle, Anthony V. Gebauer, Jose A. Hernandez, James C. Lavine, Jose Orozco, Russell A. Palumbo, Gerardo Ponce, Josh H. Shaw, Drew T. Stutts, Jack C. Tayler, Christopher Webb, Robert J. Welninski, Kevin Welninski, Jeremiah West, Gerald G. Yoho; drywall finishers: Rodrigo Galvan; and glaziers: Undrell Alexander, Mark Hall, Jeremy Ray, and Jonathon L. Siliskie.