PHOTO CAPTION; Blue Hills Electrical students Aidan McFadden, Matthew Bonner and Tim Walsh, left to right, put some final touches on their projects during STEM Week. (Photo by Judy Bass).
By Judy Bass
There was something exciting going on in the cafeteria at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton during the week of October 22-26.
Interactive student projects were displayed on the stage for Lunch & Learn, including a programmable robot named Oggy (Engineering); a tabletop electric roller coaster and maze (Electrical); a tabletop home model from Computer-Aided Design / Drafting in collaboration with Construction Technology for which students could try to calculate various components like its first-floor square footage; and races featuring gutter boats (Early Education and Care), which are miniature handmade vessels that can bob and float down a long, narrow, gutter-like container filled with water propelled by the force of someone puffing as hard as they can.
All this was done to commemorate the first Massachusetts STEM Week initiated by Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and the STEM Advisory Council, which is co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Polito, US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, and Jeffrey Leiden, Chairman, President and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The students’ projects at Blue Hills and at schools across the Commonwealth highlighted the tremendous importance and value of science, technology engineering and math for all grade levels in education and in the dynamic professions of the 21st century.
According to www.massstemweek.org, the weeklong event particularly targeted “middle and high school students, who are on the verge of thinking about college and careers.”
“STEM Week is so important for Blue Hills Regional Technical School to participate in because that's a part of what we do,” said Principal Jill Rossetti. “At Blue Hills, our robust academics and Career Technical Education programs are engaging, relevant and encompass real-world learning. STEM education seamlessly integrates with our academic classes and many of the hands-on CTE programs at Blue Hills.”
“By participating in the STEM Week activities, we show our students what we value in our education system,” said Director of Vocational Programs Michelle Sylvia. “We prepare our students to work in an economy that challenges its workforce to be forward, critical thinkers. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics is infused in all areas of our academic and vocational programs. It's really special when students can articulate their projects to their peers in a way that is meaningful, and dare I say, fun!”
Blue Hills students in select Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs crafted their projects to showcase skills they mastered in the four STEM areas. They and their teachers then set them up on the stage for other students to admire, engage with, and learn about. Judging from the broad smiles and intense gazes as students came by and evaluated their classmates’ handiwork, the endeavor was a definite success.
The gutter boat project, which was selected on the basis of a group decision made by the Early Education students, exemplified S.T.E.A.M. instead of S.T.E.M. (the “A” stands for Art). It “integrated seniors and sophomores in a competitive manner to outrace the other team’s boats in speed, design and teamwork.” according to the girls involved – Qalah Hendricks (Randolph), Emily Faherty (Holbrook), Brianna Lynch (Dedham), Kaitlyn Cahill (Braintree) and Kaylie Silva (Canton). “This relates to Early Education because you can do this with preschoolers by letting them build boats and race them,” they added.
The Electrical project was done by Aidan McFadden (Holbrook), Matthew Bonner (Norwood) and Tim Walsh (Canton). “I would say they learned how voltage can safely be transformed from 120 volts to 16 volts in order to make electricity safe to handle,” explained Electrical instructor Richard Mascarenhas. “I would also say the students learned how a complete circuit, also known as a closed circuit, will activate a bell, buzzer or chime once a full path for electrical current is made. They did this in the form of a game to help them understand the circuitry.”
For Engineering, according to Lead Teacher Dan Hamill, the students, including Aidan Flaherty (Braintree), Joseph Grieco (Abington), Devlin Young (Randolph), Mya Leitao (Dedham) and Stenley Simon (Randolph), undertook various activities. One involved an NAO robot called Oggy. “He is an autonomous robot that students can learn how program. NAO is the world's leading and most widely used humanoid robot for education, healthcare and research. NAO is 58 centimeters tall (almost 23 inches), autonomous, and is a fully programmable robot that can walk, talk, listen to you, and even recognizes your face. It is equipped with a broad range of sensors.”
The students also worked with LEGO Mindstorms, which Mr. Hamill said is “a hands-on, cross-curricular STEM solution that engages students by providing the resources to design, build and program their creations while helping them develop essential skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.” Finally, they had a JD Humanoid Robot Kit. The realistic, WiFi-enabled humanoid has 16 motorized joints so it is capable of doing things lifelike actions such as walking or dancing.
The Computer-Aided Drafting and Construction Technology house model project was worked on by the entire Drafting/CAD sophomore class, said Drafting/CAD Lead Teacher Michael Sheehan. It was made by juniors Angela Vargas (Randolph) and Brianna Ramey (Randolph) along with Construction Technology juniors Nick Burnham (Avon) and Ryan Albergo (Randolph).
Students could put their well-honed math skills to use by seeing if they were able to figure out the perimeter of the house, square footage of the first floor, the number of floor joists needed for the first floor, and the number of sheets of plywood needed to cover the first floor.
In addition, seniors in Blue Hills’ Criminal Justice program attended a robotics seminar at the Burlington campus of Northeastern University. Brendan Welch, who is a teacher in that program, said, “The event was held at the research institute for Homeland Security. Blue Hills earned 4th place during the competition which had students working together with a drivable robot to take a mock explosive out of a mailbox and put it into a secure container. They also learned about the STEM jobs that are related to our field.”
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Due to an equipment problem, we will not be open for lunch today 2/6/19.
However, we will be open for bakery items and prepared foods from our frozen case.
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PHOTO CAPTION: Left to right - Blue Hills Superintendent-Director James P. Quaglia, Chair of the School Building Committee; Blue Hills Regional District School Committee Chair Marybeth Nearen of Randolph; Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Executive Director Jack McCarthy; State Treasurer and MSBA Chair Deborah B. Goldberg; Rep. William C. Galvin; Rep. Mark J. Cusack; and Senator Walter F. Timilty. Photo by Judy Bass.
By Judy Bass
A momentous event featuring remarks from school administrators and state officials as well as a groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of a major $84.8 million renovation project at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton on June 25.
The project, which is expected to conclude in September 2019, will include numerous significant upgrades to infrastructure such as improved Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, life safety systems, new HVAC and plumbing, new electrical systems, new windows and entries, an improved roof, and new locker rooms and lockers.
Serving as the master of ceremonies and introductory speaker was Blue Hills Regional Supt.-Director James P. Quaglia, who is also Chair of the School Building Committee, which has overseen this whole endeavor since its inception. He continues to play a key role in moving the project forward.
Among the guests, some of whom delivered remarks lauding Blue Hills Regional and citing the importance of vocational technical education were State Treasurer and Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Chair Deborah B. Goldberg; MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy; State Senator Walter F. Timilty; State Rep. William C. Galvin; State Rep. Mark J. Cusack; Ms. Jen Barsamian representing State Rep. Paul McMurtry; Blue Hills Regional District School Committee Chair Marybeth Nearen of Randolph; Blue Hills District School Committee member from Norwood and member of the School Building Committee Kevin L. Connolly; Secretary of the Blue Hills Regional District School Committee and member of the School Building Committee Eric C. Erskine of Braintree; Blue Hills Regional Director of Facilities / Information Technology and member of the School Building Committee Gene Mastro; Westwood Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael F. Walsh and Westwood Board of Selectmen member Nancy C. Hyde; and representatives from the three companies involved in this project – Owner’s Project Manager Dore & Whittier Project Management & Architecture of Newburyport, the architectural firm Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA), Inc., of Waltham, and the construction management firm Consigli, which has several locations including Boston and Milford.
In her remarks, Treasurer Goldberg mentioned the true focus of this project. “It’s about kids and teachers,” she said, adding that vocational technical schools like Blue Hills Regional are a pivotal factor in the vibrancy of the economy. “This is such a critical project,” she noted, one which will ultimately provide the school with 21st-century, technologically-advanced classrooms along with much-needed collaborative working spaces.
Harkening back to the school’s 50th anniversary in 2016, District School Committee Chair Nearen said, “We want to continue the Blue Hills tradition of providing students with the best career and technical education possible for another fifty years and another fifty after that. To do so, however, we need to have a facility that is state-of-the-art in every way. This school renovation project will ensure that we have such a facility for generations to come.”
Over half the cost – 55.89% - will be reimbursed by the MSBA, a government agency that, according to its web site, makes “reimbursements to cities, towns and regional school districts for school construction projects.
As mid-November 2017, all of the school’s nine District towns – Avon, Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Holbrook, Milton, Norwood, Randolph and Westwood – officially green-lighted the project by giving their approval to Blue Hills Regional to borrow the necessary funds.
All of the planned renovations at the school are demonstrably required to provide a safe, smoothly-functioning, modern educational environment.
Supt. Quaglia has emphasized the urgent necessity of making these improvements. “This is all about ‘need-to-haves’ and not ‘nice-to haves,’” he said in an interview last fall.
Construction performed during the school year will take place on the second and third shifts, with educational spaces returned to “close to normal” during the day. Work on vocational areas, locker rooms, offices and athletic spaces will be done during the summer.
On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, twenty-one new members of the William A. Dwyer Chapter of the National Honor Society at Blue Hills Regional were inducted in a ceremony attended by family members, Blue Hills staff and administrators, and District School Committee member from Dedham and Vice Chair Mr. Thomas Polito.
The evening featured opening remarks from Supt. James P. Quaglia, a welcome from Dean of Students Thomas Cavanaugh, and the introduction of NHS members by NHS Advisor Ms. Michelle Barley.
Four NHS members each spoke about one of the traits of all those who belong to NHS: Alexisia Stewart (Scholarship), Karimah Land (Service), Kasey Zaleski (Leadership), and Sarcenas Jean-Philippe (Character).
The faculty guest speaker was history teacher Rich Cleggett, who gave a speech highlighting the value and importance of the four NHS pillars. “For one,” he said, “they are pillars and values that will be contingent with everything you will do in life. Secondly, they are measureable and tangible, they go beyond grades and tests and will bear significance on all the important choices you will make.”
Mr. Cleggett went on to say that “I promise there will be no words on any page or images on TV or world leaders’ spoken words or awards or adornments that will allow you to feel the fulfillment you will get in being a better person for the betterment of others.”
The new inductees are: Isabelle Bare (Braintree), Rose Dacey (Dedham), Isabel Davila-Lynch (Avon), Avery Delgado (Randolph), Karina Delgado, (Norwood), Alyssa Fajardo (Braintree), Ashley Fegan (Randolph), Aiden Flaherty (Braintree), Galen Galeotos (Canton), Brandon Holbert (Holbrook), Samuel Jimenez (Randolph), Evan Jurdan (Dedham), Rachel Levasseur (Holbrook), Anthony Lopez (Randolph), Angela Okoye (Randolph), Abigail Perez (Randolph), Brianna Ramey (Randolph), Destiny Taylor (Dedham), Angela Teper (Randolph), Angelique Thibault (Randolph), and Matthew Westhaver (Holbrook).
“We have the ability to enhance the world…..”—Valedictorian Kasey Zaleski of Avon to the Class of 2018
Jubilation characterized the day when 212 members of the Class of 2018 at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton graduated on June 12, bidding a final farewell to the high school they have called home for the past four years and eagerly looking forward to careers, college or the military.
Under bright skies but buffeted by a brisk wind, the soon-to-be graduates listened to speeches from adults as well as from their peers, many of whom recounted cherished remembrances of Blue Hills, dispensed words of wisdom, and gratefully thanked their families and teachers for standing by them while they evolved into capable, mature young adults who are ready to embark upon the next exciting chapter of their lives.
Blue Hills District School Committee Chair Marybeth Nearen of Randolph exhorted the grads not to forget the place they came from. “Come back and be involved in any way you can,” she urged them, citing the examples of some of the District School Committee members who attended the ceremony and are proud Blue Hills alumni – Eric C. Erskine ‘81 of Braintree and Aidan G. Maguire, Jr. ‘79 of Canton. (Other members of the District School Committee are also alumni of the school, including Francis J. Fistori ’75 of Avon and Michael C. Franzosa ’10 of Holbrook.) District School Committee members Kevin L. Connolly of Norwood, Thomas R. Polito, Jr. of Dedham and Charles W. Flahive of Westwood were in attendance.
Valedictorian Kasey Zaleski of Avon buoyantly told her classmates that “this is the day that we have been looking forward to because of one word – accomplishment.” She continued, “We are the newest graduating class of Blue Hills Regional and we have the ability to enhance the world as the creators of the Eiffel Tower, [Vincent] Van Gogh and [Thomas] Edison have done before us.”
Class President Karimah Land of Randolph whimsically quoted from Dr. Seuss in her address, then offered some tips for success: Be yourself, failure is not final, dare to be extraordinary. She concluded with another quip from the famed children’s book author: “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”
The class gift was presented by Class Treasurer Andrew Bryant of Canton to Superintendent James P. Quaglia. It is a scholarship called the Class of 2018 Rossetti Scholarship in honor of Blue Hills Principal Jill Rossetti. The sum of $1,600 will be divided into four $400 scholarships, to be given to an exceptional female student each year for the next four years.
The recipients must demonstrate the qualities that Principal Rossetti embodies, such as kindness, responsibility, leadership, respect, spirit, and be industrious. In addition, the recipients of the Rossetti Scholarship must be involved in at least two extracurricular activities and have a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average.
The occasion’s guest speaker was Senator Walter F. Timilty. “I could not be more proud of each and every one of you,” he said to the Class of 2018. “Whatever comes next, I truly believe the sky is the limit.” He then referred to an illustrious Blue Hills graduate, NASA Astronaut Scott D, Tingle of Randolph, a member of the Class of 1983 who recently concluded his first mission in space – a six-month stint aboard the International Space Station.
“He was never afraid to dream big,” Senator Timilty noted. ‘The lessons exemplified by Captain Tingle’s story will serve you well.”
In Principal Rossetti’s absence, Supt. Quaglia delivered a heartfelt address which she would have given herself. The speech reflected upon the last four momentous years that the Class of 2018 spent at Blue Hills, years which coincided with Ms. Rossetti’s first four years as the school’s principal.
“You are amazing, resilient, focused, resourceful, dedicated and unique. Don’t ever lose the eagerness for learning and growth that made you so successful at Blue Hills.”
The speech concluded with these words from author Maya Angelou advising everyone to single-mindedly follow their passion: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
Three students studying Electrical at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton – Abigail Jean-Baptiste (Canton), Joseph Moore (Braintree), and Adam Nehiley (Braintree) have been awarded Electrical Training Scholarships from IBEW Electrical Union Local 103 in Dorchester. All these students are members of the Class of 2018.
Their scholarships, which entail a five‑year combination of work and education, represent a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the field and be part of the Electrical Union. They were presented at Blue Hills on Friday, May 25, 2018, in a ceremony attended by Electrical Lead Teacher Jerry Sass, Mr. Thomas A. Cooney, Vice President, Field Operations at McDonald Electrical in Hingham who is a 1986 BHR grad and co‑founder of the company, and Business Agent for IBEW Local 103 Mr. Frank Aikens.
In his remarks to the apprenticeship recipients as well as the other students in Electrical, Mr. Aikens emphasized the numerous advantages that electricians in Local 103 get. Mr. Cooney echoed those sentiments, also saying, “You’re learning for the rest of your life. Stay committed, stay persistent, don’t give up.”
All these students appreciated receiving this valuable opportunity for training and experience, as well as the chance to establish a foothold in the industry upon their graduation from Blue Hills. Local 103 customarily awards apprenticeships each year to select Blue Hills seniors in Electrical who have demonstrated exceptional promise and potential. The school is deeply grateful for Local 103’s generous support of the students, who will be part of the next generation of notable professionals in Electrical, as well as their enthusiastic support of career and technical education.