NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 19, 2012

Whittier Vo-Tech, a gem that many overlook

Every year that I live in Newburyport, I find new things that I’ve never explored. I would like to share a most recent find with you. I have eaten at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School’s Poet’s Inn and had the delicious food offered by the Culinary Arts students. But I had no idea of the educational opportunities and the career/work expertise that is available at this wonderful school.

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Eileen Lawton, a journalism teacher, at Whittier. She had offered to show me the entire school and I enthusiastically responded. It has always amazed me that I had seen so little news printed in the paper about the wonderful opportunities and activities available to our local students at this facility.

I was advised by school personnel that during 2013 Whittier will celebrate its 40th anniversary. What a celebration! Ninety percent of Whittier Tech students who took the English MCAS last spring scored in the advanced proficiency category. On math scores for the 2014 graduating class, they exceeded the year before in both English and math and passing rates were significantly higher than state averages.

Their outside school projects are very successful and cost-effective. Electrical students went to Hill View Montessori Charter School in Haverhill and installed SmartBoards and projectors, mounted a large-screen TV and this fall will renovate their kitchen. These projects are being done by four seniors in electrical technology and they helped keep expenses down for the charter school. Dozens of community service projects are completed by Whittier students every year.

Seventeen students worked on the Amesbury Little League’s concession stand behind Cashman Elementary School. They installed three new fiberglass doors with hardware and locks and covered all the trim with new vinyl siding.

I observed a full-size home being built in the carpentry shop at Whittier. This project is done during junior and senior years at school. Academic classes in algebra, English, science and computer science were in session during my tour. Many graduates go on to leading colleges and training programs.

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