The following is a guest story by Judy Wasserman:
Summer has settled in and most students are taking a vacation from homework, exams and classroom work.
But, for one group of students from Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, summer vacation is also a break from working at Grand View Farm.
This school year, students from various Shawsheen disciplines, including plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and HVAC, have been getting some real-life experience while they help the town complete restoration of the 18th century historical site.
Not only are they learning in the classroom, but they are also learning on the job.
Town and school officials see this partnership as a win-win. The students get valuable, on-the-job experience, and the town saves labor costs. Assistant Town Administrator Tom Hickey praised the students for their fine work, and emphasized the financial benefit to the town.
Recently, while students installed wood trim in the farmhouse’s front parlor, Rick Weadick, carpentry teacher, said working at Grand View has been valuable. “Any off-campus project is beneficial, because it provides real-life work. And, the students take more pride in this than in doing just a mock-up.”
Weadick said the students like being involved in the community, and that when they are at Grand View, the school day goes by quickly. They also appreciate the variety of tasks they have been asked to tackle.
With a smile, he noted that because of the house’s age, many interior walls were not straight, and that presented a challenge to him and the students.
In fact, Patrick Gallagher, a junior, of Billerica said that working on the crooked walls was a challenge, and “helped me work on my skills.” He liked the hands-on experience at Grand View, calling it “just like a real job site.”
Eddie Bromander, a junior from Tewksbury, said it was special to be helping the town of Burlington. And, “the reality of it gets you prepared for the real world,” he said.
Leah Cafarelli, a junior from Tewksbury, said she appreciated working on a historical house, something you don’t see that often. Like her classmates, she appreciated the hands-on experience, and Cafarelli believes she has learned more outside the classroom and being on a real job.
Teams of Shawsheen students were on a rotating schedule at Grand View; for example, Weadick’s students were there some days, installing wood trim, installing blue boards, framing, and straightening the walls. Other days, plumbing or HVAC or electrical students were at the site, doing their individual jobs.
Officials expect Shawsheen students will return in the fall to help with some ongoing projects at Grand View. As always, the students will continue to work closely with the town and its construction team.