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Valley Tech Holds 13th Annual Technology Awareness Day

District Towns Resoundingly Approve Valley Tech Budget

BVT Partners Up with Uxbridge Police Department

Valley Tech Celebrates Class of 2014

"Chronicle" Highlights Blackstone Valley Tech

Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker Visits Blackstone Valley Tech

BVT Establishes Design and Visual Communications Program

Valley Tech Named In Top 10 High Schools In Central Massachusetts

 

Valley Tech Holds 13th Annual Technology Awareness Day

Tech Day
BVT Tech Day Robo: Johnathan Saniuk of Milford of the BVT Electronics and Engineering Technology program guides a young North Street Elementary School student through a hands-on lesson in robotics.

Time flies when you're educating children about the power of technology. Just ask David and Janet Lewis.

Thirteen years ago, David, a Manufacturing and Engineering Technology instructor at Blackstone Valley Tech, and his wife Janet, an Instructional Technology Specialist at Grafton's North Street Elementary School, were sitting at home talking shop about their respective careers in technology education. When the conversation steered toward introducing young children to the educational and professional power of technology, an idea struck Janet.

"I said to David, 'Wouldn't it be great if my students could see how your students use technology?'" Janet recalled. "So we put a little tour of Valley Tech together for North Street students."

More than a decade later, that "little tour" has grown into a Valley Tech tradition and one of North Street Elementary School's most popular field trips. The latest "Technology Awareness Day" was held in early June and saw Multimedia Communications team leader Jim Millette provide the elementary school visitors with an overview on the daily role of technology at BVT. Working off their familiarity with video game consoles and personal electronic devices, Millette showed the young students that the same technology behind modern day gadgets is used to power Valley Tech's computer networking, heating and air conditioning, and solar panels.

Following Millete's presentation, North Street students, staff, and parents received an up-close look at technology's vital role in a successful vocational technical system. Guided tours of Valley Tech's various programs and shops were conducted by a team of BVT students, including several students who attended "Technology Awareness Day" when they were students at North Street Elementary.

"The day I came to 'Tech Awareness Day' was the day I knew I wanted to be a student at Valley Tech," said Manufacturing and Engineering Technology junior Andrew Allen.

Tour guide Elizabeth DeCosta of Grafton also credited 'Tech Awareness Day' with motivating her to pursue admission to Valley Tech's Manufacturing program.

"Valley Tech can be such a good inspiration and something to strive for," DeCosta said. "If you're not doing well in school, you might say to yourself, 'I want to go to Valley Tech, so what do I need to do to improve?'"

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District Towns Resoundingly Approve Valley Tech Budget

Conservative financing and creative cost containment have once again earned voter approval of the Blackstone Valley Tech budget.

Each year, passage of the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District's budget hinges on approval from two-thirds of the District's 13 member towns. The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 recently cleared the two-thirds hurdle by earning its ninth and tenth votes of approval during annual town meetings in Blackstone and Bellingham.

The approved blueprint for cost savings was crafted over months of review and prioritization by educators and School Committee members dedicated to providing cost-effective, quality services for many of the youth in the Blackstone Valley. Beginning with a zero-based budget and a commitment to current levels of service, the School Committee's final budget of $20,970,532 calls for member towns to contribute an average per pupil investment of $9,491.

"But Valley Tech does not stop there," Superintendent Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick said of the per pupil investment. "By meeting strict standards established by the state and its private sector partners for vocational technical programs, Valley Tech qualifies for significant Chapter 74 state revenue to match local financing efforts. It is unfair for anyone to criticize local schools for not accessing the higher Chapter 74 eligible funding when they are not designed to meet the rigorous Chapter 74 criteria."

Additional sources of state revenue, according to Fitzpatrick, are far from Valley Tech's only method of giving District residents more bang for their buck.

"In fact, Valley Tech further complements local efforts through the diligent pursuit of grant funding, private sector support, and efficiencies such as green school initiatives," Fitzpatrick explained. "The school is particularly aggressive in attaining additional learning and teaching resources without impacting local assessment contributions."

On behalf of the Valley Tech School Committee, Fitzpatrick expressed gratitude to the vast majority of finance committees throughout the 13-town District for voicing support of the Valley Tech budget, which utilized $250,000 in available reserve funds, and the planned pursuit of grants, cost reduction, and additional revenue to achieve a modest 2.5% increase.

As in years past, the approved budget is the sole funding request that Valley Tech will make of its member communities for Fiscal Year 2015. With the exception of special debt or an occasional capital improvement initiative, Valley Tech's annual budget request includes workers' compensation, health and other insurance, unemployment, snow removal, federal/state revenue shortfalls, central office, bookkeeping, treasurer, legal, audit, and other expenses. Special Education and Student Assessment costs are also included within the annual budget. Valley Tech staff and students are able to undertake much of the maintenance of the building along with monitoring the facility's complex ventilation and heating system, saving thousands of dollars in outside labor costs.

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BVT Partners Up with Uxbridge Police Department

UPD
BVT Uxbridge PD 1: Uxbridge residents Ryan Manz and Colin Fiorentino worked together measuring and cutting dry wall as part of a municipal project in their hometown. Manz and Fiorentino are juniors in the BVT Construction Technology program, which was one of several Valley Tech programs to work on the construction of evidence rooms at the Uxbridge Police Department.


The Uxbridge Police Department will soon gain two new evidence rooms while saving thousands of dollars thanks to a collaboration with Blackstone Valley Tech.

The partnership began soon after Uxbridge Chief of Police Jeffrey A. Lourie assumed his post in October of 2013 and identified several areas in need of enhancement, including the department's ability to process and store evidence. Utilizing a gift account to fund the project, Lourie began looking for ways to contain the cost of renovating the department's unfinished second floor to include evidence rooms.

"We needed to be conservative with the gift account because the town doesn't have a lot of funding for these types of projects," Lourie said. "The most cost effective route was to reach out to Valley Tech."

According to BVT Vocational Curriculum Coordinator Tom Belland, construction of the 12-by-24 foot evidence rooms was an ideal project for Valley Tech students, as the Construction Technology program has shifted its focus away from furniture and cabinet making and now emphasizes skills in the areas of framing, renovating, and construction design.

The renovation got underway in January 2014, with several of Valley Tech's 17 vocational technical programs collaborating on the project. Blueprints were designed by the Drafting and Engineering Technology program, students and staff from the Construction Technology program built framework for the evidence rooms, and initial wiring was installed by the Electrical program. Construction continued through the month of March, with students scheduled to install sheet rock, dry wall, a hung ceiling, doors, baseboards, final wiring, and tile flooring. Valley Tech will finish the project by renovating the 6-by-32 foot hallway leading to the new evidence rooms.

By working with BVT on supplies, materials, and construction details, Valley Tech instructors estimate savings to the Uxbridge Police Department of roughly $10,000. Providing such savings to its 13 district towns is a core part of Valley Tech's mission, according to Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick.

"As Valley Tech pursues voter approval of a necessary bond to expand our vocational programming, we hope our 13 District towns and their residents will take note of the many municipal projects undertaken by our students and staff each year," Fitzpatrick said. "The taxpayer dollars saved by these projects are often equal to or greater than the annual contributions the proposed bond would require from our member communities."

In the spring of 2014, Blackstone Valley Tech will seek town meeting approval of a $2.9 million bond to renovate the school to include new programs in Veterinary Assisting, Legal and Protective Services, and Engineering. With modest bond payments shared and spread among 13 municipal partners over a twenty year period, Valley Tech does not consider debt exemption a necessity and has offered to rebate District towns 50% of each town's bond assessment for the first two years.

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Valley Tech Celebrates Class of 2014

Graduation
McGee and Sadwin BVT Graduation: Valley Tech Class of 2014 Student Council President Michael McGee of Millville and Senior Class President Samantha Sadwin of Blackstone congratulated each other on their successful speeches following Valley Tech's May 29 commencement ceremony. McGee is a graduate of the BVT Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program and Sadwin is a graduated from the BVT Painting and Design Technology program.
Graduation 2
Jennifer and Jake: Blackstone Valley Tech Class of 2014 Valedictorian Jennifer Morin of Mendon and Salutatorian Jake Rivard of Northbridge were all smiles prior to their commencement ceremony on May 29. Jennifer and Jake are both graduates of the BVT Drafting and Engineering Technology Program.

The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester was packed Thursday evening as family, friends, and educators gathered to take part in the Blackstone Valley Tech Class of 2014 commencement ceremony.

After four years preparing for the next stage of their career development, the Class of 2014 was praised by Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick for its near 100% placement in post-secondary institutions, employment, apprenticeships, and military service. As the students embark on their chosen pathways, Fitzpatrick drew on his experience as an avid gardener and advised the graduates to keep their feet on the ground and their hands in the dirt.

"My advice is to keep moving. Keep sowing the seeds, tilling the earth, and even occasionally shoveling the proverbial manure, in the garden of your life," Fitzpatrick said. "Do not give up and your odds will improve."

In the years ahead, as they shape the foundations of their adult lives, Valedictorian Jennifer Morin of Mendon encouraged her fellow graduates to strike a delicate balance.

"Life, in my mind, is a balance of risks and responsibility," Morin said. "Our parents and teachers have helped us preserve this balance up until this point. Now it's up to us to maintain it."

In an address from Class of 2014 Salutatorian Jake Rivard of Northbridge, the Class of 2014 was saluted for seeking and securing a vocational technical education.

"We are no longer children, but rather homebuilders and manufacturers. We are the people who ensure the lights stay on, the computers keep working, and your hair looks fabulous on those specials day," Rivard said. "Going to Valley Tech was always about more than keeping the water running and the cars on the road. It was about taking the initiative to learn something useful, without sacrificing anything academically, and using it to make our futures that much brighter."

In addition to words of encouragement and praise from Morin and Rivard, the Class of 2014 was also addressed by Senior Class President Samantha Sadwin of Blackstone and Student Council President Michael McGee of Millville, as well as Assistant Superintendent-Director/Principal Anthony Steele, and Assistant Principal Matthew Urquhart.

To conclude their commencement ceremony, a total of 279 seniors from throughout Valley Tech's 13-town district took the final steps of their secondary careers across the Hanover stage received both a diploma and a certificate of occupational proficiency.

 

 

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"Chronicle" Highlights Blackstone Valley Tech

Chronicle
(left to right) Blackstone Valley Tech Manufacturing and Engineering Technology junior Daniel Burdick of Milford and Drafting and Engineering Technology junior Jacob O'Donnell of Northbridge recently spoke with WCVB-TV's "Chronicle" producers about the positive connection between their academic and vocational technical success at Valley Tech.

An upcoming episode of WCVB-TV's "Chronicle" will examine Blackstone Valley Tech's success in closing the achievement gap between boys and girls.

While researching solutions to the issue of girls outperforming boys in schools across the country, "Chronicle" producer Amy Masters said that she became interested in Valley Tech after learning that BVT male and female students are excelling on equally high levels. According to the highly regarded producer, "Chronicle's" interest in Valley Tech was fueled by the system's consistently high achievement, completion, and placement rates. Her advance research included review of an article in the September 2013 issue of "The Atlantic Journal" which claimed that BVT's "success with boys is astonishing."

During their recent visit, Masters and her production team toured Valley Tech's shops and classrooms, and spoke with several students about the connection between vocational technical and academic success. For Manufacturing & Engineering Technology junior Daniel Burdick of Milford, the integration of Valley Tech's vocational technical and academic curriculum keeps him engaged whether he is in his vocational shop or an academic classroom.

"The math I need to know in my manufacturing shop corresponds to what I'm learning in my actual math class," Burdick explained.

Sutton resident Adam Intinarelli told the "Chronicle" crew that Valley Tech's vocational technical programming helps students keep an eye on the future, while providing motivation to succeed in the present. As a senior in the Health Services program, Intinarelli views each day at Valley Tech as another step toward his goal of becoming an occupational therapist.

Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick was also recruited to speak with the producers of "Chronicle" and provided his view on Valley Tech's success with both male and female students.

"Our teachers and administrators are owed a great deal of credit and gratitude for establishing an educational environment where the potential to succeed is unlimited," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick noted that in nearly twenty years as BVT Superintendent-Director, "Chronicle" has visited the school three times to highlight various programs and initiatives. The latest appearance on the popular program is especially timely, according to Fitzpatrick, as Valley Tech embarks on a $6 million bond project to expand its facilities and establish additional vocational programming.

The "Chronicle" episode featuring Blackstone Valley Tech is tentatively scheduled to air in late January or early February. Details will be posted on the school's website (www.valleytech.k12.ma.us) once an air-date has been selected.

Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills.

Watch Blackstone Valley Tech Featured on "Chronicle"

Blackstone Valley Tech was highlighted on WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston's popular "Chronicle" program.

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Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker Visits Blackstone Valley Tech

Baker Auto Tech
BVT Auto Tech juniors Bridget Kuria of Grafton (center) and Ashley Donnelly of Millbury (right) talked with gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker about the potential to use their skills in both the mechanical and business sides of the automotive industry.

Time is tight when you're running for governor of Massachusetts, but gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker recently made time to experience a tasty snack, impressive demonstrations, and informative discussions with students of Blackstone Valley Tech.

Following his keynote address at the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting on November 21, 2013, Baker was accompanied by State Representative George N. Peterson Jr., R-Grafton, on a tour of Valley Tech, where Baker gained a firsthand look at the school's best practices in vocational and academic education. Along the way, Baker performed a taste test for students in the Culinary Arts program, climbed inside a vehicle for an up-close look at repairs being done by Automotive Technology students, and provided Business Technology students with some real world experience by purchasing an extra-large Valley Tech T-shirt in the student-run store.

Baker Taste Test
(left to right) State Representative George N. Peterson Jr., R-Grafton, BVT Culinary Arts Junior Zach Crosby of Upton, and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker were all smiles following a successful taste test of Crosby's sesame seed chicken

A visit with a group of freshman currently exploring enrollment in the BVT Health Services program struck especially close to home for the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Citing an aging population and continued changes in American healthcare, Baker offered the students an encouraging outlook as they consider a career in healthcare.

"There's going to be plenty of job opportunities out there for you," Baker said.

Throughout his visit, Baker took every opportunity to talk with students regarding their future career plans and why they chose to apply to Valley Tech. Students spoke of the appeal of a vocational and academic education as a means of increasing their career opportunities. According to Baker, many of the students said that their passion for their vocational education reinforces the need to also excel in academic areas like math, science, and English.

"So many students here believe they have a purpose and a place," Baker commented. "They have a good idea of where they're going and I think that's a great thing in today's world and today's economy."

Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills.

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BVT Establishes Design and Visual Communications Program

In response to the ever-changing scope of the graphics industry, the Blackstone Valley Tech (BVT) Graphic Communications program has officially been transformed into a Design and Visual Communications program.

New DVC Lab
As part of its transition to a Design and Visual Communications program, BVT retrofitted existing space to create a brand new, state-of-the-art computer lab.

The program's reclassification was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on September 4, 2013, and marked a major milestone in the transition from a Graphic Communications program focused on pre-press and print to a Design and Visual Communications program focused on digital design and multimedia communications.

The shift toward a Design and Visual Communications program has been years in the making, according to BVT Vocational Curriculum Coordinator Thomas Belland, who said that advancements in technology and the emergence of digital media have required a growing emphasis on digital design in the Graphic Communications curriculum.

"It's no longer enough for students to only know how to press and print thousands of wedding invitations," Belland said. "To capture the jobs of today and tomorrow, students need the skills to design and integrate data into those invitations, as well."

While print is expected to remain a viable section of the graphics industry, BVT argued in its application to the state that the majority of jobs in the immediate future will be found in areas of digital media such as web design, television and game development.

"Opportunities for jobs in print are shrinking, whereas design opportunities in a medium such as mobile device media are just beginning to emerge and will only continue to grow," said BVT Design and Visual Communications Instructor Adele Ellis.

To support its claim, BVT's application included corresponding data from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Developments for 2008-2018 and a letter of support from the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board.

With approval now in hand, Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick said that all of BVT's programs, including Design and Visual Communications, will continue being evaluated and adapted as needed.

"One of the most critical attributes of quality vocational technical education is program fluidity," Fitzpatrick said. "Transitioning career paths to ensure they reflect current practice ensures employability opportunity."

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Valley Tech Named In Top 10 High Schools In Central Massachusetts

Valley Tech was recently named Number Nine out of 60 other schools in the GoLocalWorcester's 2nd Annual Massachusetts' Top High Schools 2013. This proprietary ranking system is determined through the compilation and evaluation of data from 345 public, charter and technical schools throughout the Commonwealth to determine how community schools provide for their students.

Using a proprietary formula developed at Babson College, data is collected to assess and weight each school's latest MCAS and SAT scores, per pupil funding, student-teacher ratios and graduation rates. All data is the latest available from the Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary Education's databases as of April 2013. With school quality paramount in assessing real estate values and deemed a key element in community-based efforts, this quantitative analysis of each school provides a comprehensive view of the secondary school educational landscape in Massachusetts.
"We are pleased to be chosen as one of the Top 10 High Schools in Central Massachusetts," stated Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, Superintendent-Director. "At Valley Tech, we remain diligent in our quest to ensure students are equipped with a set of skills that will allow them to quickly grasp today's demands and tomorrow's challenges."

Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech works toward enhancing the economic, social, and historic strengths of the region by providing integrated academic and vocational technical skills, empowering students to achieve world-class educational excellence, diverse career opportunities, and individual success in an ever-changing global society all in a safe learning environment.

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Updated July 11, 2014