Cadence Allen, a third-year student in Oxford Hills Technical School’s building construction technology program, is nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Award in career and technical education. Her instructors are Dan Daniels, left, and Tony Stevens. Submitted photo

PARIS — As the lead instructor for building construction technology at Oxford Hills Technical School tells it, senior Cadence Allen is one of the top students he’s seen in his 28 years of teaching. When school Director Paul Bickford approached Dan Daniels with Allen’s transcript and suggested they nominate her for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Award in career and technical education there was no hesitation.

“She was the Golden Hammer award (winner) in her first year, beating out the second and third years students ahead of her,” Daniels said. “She won it the next year, as the best overall. She is academically in the top 10% of her class, and that stood out.

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,” he said. “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 in 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.”

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 is a partnership among OHTS, Turn Key Homes of Maine of Oxford and Hammond Lumber. Once completed, it will be moved to a lot in Norway and listed for sale. In the next school year, another house will be built on the school 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,” he said.

Allen has started that apprenticeship, working for her father’s contractor business.

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 waterproof before we start working on the interior,” she said.

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 said. “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,” her instructor said. “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.”

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