Lucinda Booth, MA Kevin Halcott, VT Brett Hunsanger, RI
Darrin McCarthy, MA Jason McGeachey, ME Colin McKenna, MA
Alan Napolitan, NY Madylin Partridge, VT Patrick Scully, CT
R. Anuhea Sebstad, MA Jay Staunton, MA
Level 2: Ursa Medeiros, WA
Level 3: Ben Sandri, MA
As always, Fall Test Day landed on glorious weather! Thirteen wallers showed for a chance to get certified through the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) of Great Britain. On September 22, candidates tested at three of the four levels of certification: Level 1 (Initial), Level 2 (Intermediate), Level 3 (Advanced), and Level 4 (Master Craftsmen).
Everybody passed! Congratulations to all! Eleven wallers achieved Level 1 certification, one leaped the Level 2 hurdle, and Ben Sandri completed Part B of the Level 3 test, becoming the fifth to accomplish Level 3 in the past three years. In addition, Bryce Hollingsworth met success on his Level 3A features. He expects to test for Part B on Spring Test Day.
As in the spring, Andy Loudon, Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain Chief Assessor, traveled from England to evaluate candidates. Jared Flynn, champion of the Stone Trust Center, stood as the second DSWA assessor. Andy also evaluated assessors, including Jared, Brian Post, and Michael Weitzner, as part of a protocol for ensuring that assessors across the globe adhere to the criteria at each level.
Just before 9 a.m. Andy and DSWA North American Coordinator Brian Post addressed guidelines and safety procedures. They took questions. At 9:00, each waller began stripping out his assigned section of wall. Completing a test stint within the seven hour period makes for a long, hard day, but everyone finished! If you don’t finish, you don’t pass.
The Level 1 test requires a waller to strip and rebuild 27 sq. ft. of free standing wall, within a seven hour period. This area is roughly equal to a wall 4 feet 6 inches tall and 6 feet long.
The Level 2 test involves stripping down and rebuilding a section of wall that includes a cheekend, also about 27 square feet. Level 2 is more difficult to pass because a much higher standard is expected in terms of structural quality and visual fit-and-finish.
The Level 3B speed test requires you to strip out and rebuild 4.5m2 (49 square feet) of retaining wall in a seven-hour period. The wall must be built to a very high standard within the time limit. Note that line and batter are very important in this test.
At 4:30, with the test completed, the four assessors studied each test stint and assigned scores. As part of assessor training, they conferred in private to compare results against the criteria at each level. The candidates refreshed themselves with food, beverages, and conversation till the assessors returned to pass out mark sheets. Then assessors met with level groups to walk through and explain the strengths and weaknesses of each section of wall. All test-takers stayed to learn what went well and how to improve in the future.
Thank you to everyone for your commitment to certification as dry stone wallers. Every certified waller helps preserve and advance the art and craft of dry stone walling. The tradition endures because people carry it forward.
Special thanks to Andy Loudon for making another long, quick trip from England. Your support of Stone Trust members seeking to advance up the certification pathway is critical and much appreciated.
Great appreciation, too, to Jared Flynn, Brian Post, and Michael Weitzner for again bringing your expertise and skill to test day. The Stone Trust is grateful for your dedication to expanding the community of certified dry stone wallers in North America. And special thanks to Brian Post for nurturing the relationship with the DSWA and for ensuring that the Stone Trust maintains the certification standards.
If you are interested in DSWA Certification Testing, you can find upcoming certification test days here.