The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Cornerstone Craftsman: Constructing Futures


As you scroll through the @alexcitytitans Instagram page, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Cornerstone Craftsman, an up-and-coming construction organization based in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Every Saturday, student members are brought to the training facility where they participate in various activities related to construction. Students learn how to work in drywall, plaster, paint and crown molding.

“In the construction industry, you would call [what we do] the finishing stages of a project, so how to build a room from the ground up and then safely demo it afterwards. [Our program] grew and grew and grew, and now we have a training facility that was donated to us. We built it with two bare framed rooms with mock utilities; we have mock plumbing and electrical,” said Roberto Gomez, the executive director and program manager of Cornerstone Craftsman.

Cornerstone Craftsman students paint a wall. / Gabriel Elias

Gomez started this program two years ago and has gained more recognition from the community after being featured on the school Instagram. Along with Cornerstone Craftsman, Gomez owns a construction company, Even Scale LLC, and has been in the construction industry for over 15 years. Through his company, he began to sponsor events in Alexandria and spoke to teens interested in learning about the trades. 

“When I started my construction business [Even Scale LLC] and started to get successful, I decided that I wanted to make it my mission in life to give back so that young men and women don’t make the same mistakes that I did [at their age],” he said. 

Focused on supporting teens that may be facing struggles at home and at school, Cornerstone Craftsman provides students with an environment where they can learn and better themselves through construction work.

“We mentor the young men that we work with, and we advocate for them if they have court dates or if they are on probation, any of that. We contact their teachers at school and their administrators to make sure they are going to class and make sure they are doing good in school. We try to offer them all the support systems they would need to succeed,” said Gomez. 

Students who are in the program and on probation are allowed to complete their community service hours through Cornerstone Craftsman. “Not only are we getting students off probation, but we are hearing things back from the community, their teachers, their parents. [They say] that [the student’s] behavior is changing for the positive, like they are coming home on time, they are listening more and their grades are higher.” he said. 

Gomez explained that Cornerstone Craftsman also may give students job opportunities after high school. 

“Once they graduate our program, we are going to leverage our network of construction companies that are our friends and guarantee job placements. By the time that these young men and women are done with us, they are going to know so much [about construction] that their starting salaries should be somewhere between $18 to $24 an hour because that is how skilled they are going to be,” said Gomez.

Gabriel Elias, a teacher at ACHS, is part of the Board of Directors for Cornerstone Craftsman and works on marketing the program on social media. 

“I think programs like these are the future because the school system can’t possibly do everything because there is a resource crunch. We need to make sure that we make partnerships with the community. Programs like these are important; we need people interested in jobs associated with trade. The sooner we build up these programs, the better,” said Elias.

After Elias posted about Cornerstone Craftsman on @alexcitytitans, the program gained positive exposure from people interested in what it has to offer. 

“We are getting a lot of local businesses asking us how they can help. We are getting a lot more kids asking how they can join. We are getting parents reaching out, and we are seeing that some of the kids [featured on social media] are proud to be in the videos. They are proud that people are recognizing them for something other than getting in trouble and that does a lot for someone’s mindset and spirit,” said Gomez. 

As of right now, the program has thirteen participants with ages ranging from 13 to 17. There is a waitlist that plans to open in May to accept 15 more participants. 

Although Cornerstone Craftsman is involved with ACHS and works with many ACHS students, it is currently not a club or program directly connected to the school. 

“We are in talks of bringing something like [Cornerstone Craftsman] to [ACHS] because a lot of our kids say they wish it was in school. Right now, we only spend time with the kids on the weekend. The goal is to turn this into an after school program where kids can come everyday after school for up to three hours,” said Gomez. 

If interested in the program, students can send a message to @cornerstonecraftsman on Instagram to find out more details regarding paperwork they may need to fill out along with their parents before becoming an official participant. 

“My belief is that if we provide opportunities to [a student], they will cling on to those opportunities and make something of their lives, and that’s the hope,” said Gomez. 


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    Jada ZacharyMar 15, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    Awesome keep up the good work!!!