Submitted by Shawsheen Valley Technical High School
Shawsheen Valley Technical High School will host an 8th Grade Career Night as part of an on-going expansion of its outreach programs including TechJam 2.0 in April, increased summer enrichment and sports programming as well as its long-running and popular Project Explore program.
The January 18th Career Night is open to eighth-grade students and their families from 6 to 8 p.m. with information available on admissions, its 20 vocational-technical programs, academics, athletics and extracurricular activities.
According to Superintendent Tim Broadrick, “Old stereotypes about our school and other technical high schools just don’t hold water anymore. Today’s vocational and technical graduates are well-prepared for the world of work and for post-secondary education, and their post-graduate plans tend to be more focused and practical thanks to their exposure to the world of work. I think people are starting to recognize that technical skills are critical for success in today’s economy.”
The school is not limiting its outreach efforts to two open houses per year. Kevin Bloom, Chair of the English department at Shawsheen Tech, is also the Summer Program Coordinator, a position he began serving in last year. He said the school is dedicated to making its assets available to the community all year round.
“Last summer we enrolled 213 students in enrichment and sports programs at the school. This summer, we are looking to triple that number – maybe more,” said Bloom. He added that a newlydeveloped athletic campus featuring artificial turf football and baseball fields will be a centerpiece of those summer offerings, including expanded sports camps run by some of Shawsheen Tech’s coaches.
In addition to athletic camps for middle-school-aged children, summer programs will include SAT preparation and academic enrichment courses for students of all ages. “We will have a catalog out during February,” said Bloom. “We offer vocational exploratory classes for younger kids who may want to try cooking with our Culinary Arts and Bakery teachers, for example. We have been considering many options.”
TechJam 2.0 is also in the works for this April school vacation. This hugely popular day-long event was organized last April with strong support from Microsoft and other local business sponsors. More than 250 sixth, seventh and eighth graders from around the District spent a day at Shawsheen Tech-gaming, coding and programming; creating digital art; operating robots and drones; 3-D printing; and many other fun activities related to technology.
“It was a huge success,” said TechJam organizer Russ Eckel, who is the School District’s Director of Partnerships and Workforce Education. “It actually spawned one of the more popular offerings in the summer catalog – a week-long TechJam Camp.”
The District’s list of community programs also includes a long-running and popular program for seventh graders called Project Explore, a four-week-long after-school program that requires pre-enrollment registration for sessions that start in January and also run in March. Project Explore allows seventh-grade students an opportunity to experience first-hand the learning model Shawsheen Tech’s teachers use in its 20 vocational and technical shop programs.
All this energy around community involvement is intentional, according to Superintendent Broadrick. “Americans born in the 1940s and 1950s had a 90 percent likelihood of earning more than their parents did… for students born in the 1980s, that chance has slipped to less than 50percent. Our economy is more competitive than ever, and students and parents have begun to realize that early experience that includes co-op, apprenticeships, and project-based education can provide a significant leg up,” Broadrick said.
“There are many opportunities in the weeks and months ahead for students and parents to visit us, starting with our Career Night on Wednesday, January 18th. All of our vocational and technical shops will be open for tours, and a number of our employer partners will be on hand and available to describe the many career and educational pathways available to our graduates”, he continued.
“People need to see and understand that 21st-century vocational and technical education is very different from the trade schools of the 1960s or 70s.,” Broadrick concluded. “Many of our students still graduate directly into well-paying jobs, but many others pursue two- or four-year degrees, often related to their fields of study here at the Tech.”