PARIS — As Oxford Hills Technical School’s lead instructor for its building construction technology tells it, senior Cadence Allen is one of the top students he has seen during his 28 years of teaching. So when OHTS Director Paul Bickford approached Danny Daniels with Allen’s transcript and the suggestion they nominate her for the CTE U.S. Presidential Scholar Award there was no hesitation.
“They (tech school administrators) look at the academic records and her accolades in building construction and determined we should nominate her,” Daniels said. “She was the Golden Hammer award (winner) in her first year, beating out the second and third years students ahead of her. She won it the next year, as the best overall. She is academically in the top 10% of her class, and that stood out.”
Daniels continued, “Cadence is one of probably the top three students I’ve had, and the first that I’ve had nominated for the presidential scholar award. Her ability to understand different systems, her work ethic and attention to detail, those stand out.”
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to recognize distinguished graduating high school seniors. It was extended in 1979 to include students demonstrating exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts and again in 2015, to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Final awards, granted to up to 161 students annually, will be announced next May.
As Daniels explains it, the further Allen has gone in the building construction trades program, the less teaching from him she requires. She also has skills valuable in her field that cannot be taught: comfort working “up in the air.”
“Cadence has a lack of fear of heights,” Daniels said. “And she is not dangerous with it, as some can be, running all over the place. Cadence is cautious and follows the rules. She just does a great job working on elevated surfaces.”
Allen is an integral member of the leadership team building a residential house in the parking lot behind Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. The house, being built on a recently installed foundation, is a partnership between OHTS, Turn Key Homes of Maine of Oxford and Hammond Lumber. Once completed, it will be moved to a house lot in Norway and listed for sale; next school year a new house will be built on the parking lot foundation.
“Cadence is one of the leaders on the parking lot building project,” Daniels said. “She is probably the one we give the hardest tasks to, because she sticks to it and she is a perfectionist who understands them completely.
“By the time we get done with this house she’ll be well-versed in finish and trim and ready to move right into an advanced carpenter apprenticeship.”
Allen has already started that apprenticeship, working for her father’s contractor business. She will continue on that track once she graduates next June.
Most of the work at the tech school home has involved framing, so far. The walls are up and roof boarded over. When class resumes after the Christmas break Allen looks forward to getting into the finer points of carpentry.
“Next we’ll work on making it water-proof before we start working on the interior,” Allen said of the construction classroom. She actually prefers to doing the hands-on work rather than directing others, but as a class leader she has embraced her role mentoring others.
“I will do what my teachers tell me to,” she said. “Pretty much, because I’m a third-year and senior I am responsible for some of the second-years too. A lot of the time the teachers will tell me what to do and then it’s my job to tell the others how to help me, and give them jobs.
“I don’t mind, because sometimes others get a little off-course and I don’t mind saying, ‘come help me with this, and this is how it should be done.’”
“She’s very precise with her instructions, and kind,” Daniels said. “She doesn’t get frustrated when someone doesn’t get something right. She continues to explain it to them. She is patient with them.”
Daniels said that while Allen’s skills and abilities stood out since she joined the program, she has since flourished in other ways.
“When she was a first-year she was pretty shy,” he shared. “Her confidence level, in herself and who she is, she has just matured so much. It’s really one of the fun parts of my job. To see them come in and, over two years, you see how they’ve matured and gained confidence and grown. She has just grown exponentially.
“Cadence has an unbelievable future in front of her. Whatever she decides, whether it’s construction or something else she is going to do a great job at it. She is that kind of individual.”