Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School

Annual Report for the Year Ending December 31, 2000

Superintendent-Director Stratos G. Dukakis announces that the highlight of the 1999-2000 school year was the dedication of the expansion/modernization project---the first since the school opened in 1971. Held May 17 in the school’s magnificent new Performing Arts Center, the ceremony attracted hundreds of guests. The gala evening got under way with a scrumptious array of hors d’oeuvres prepared and served by students and staff in the Culinary Arts department. This was followed by a concert performed by the Boston Classical Orchestra. Guest conductor was the legendary Harry Ellis Dickson. Guests also had the opportunity to tour the expanded $16 million facility. On March 4, Thayer Symphony Orchestra officially opened the state-of –the-art facility with its spring concert. The site is now the official home of the renowned orchestra.

Recently, the School Committee voted to officially name the auditorium the Stratos G. Dukakis Performing Arts Center. Mr. Dukakis, who is retiring in June after serving as

Superintendent-Director since 1986 was instrumental in gaining the support from the entire School District that was needed to make the expansion/modernization project a reality. In addition, the Sports Complex/Physical Education Center has been named in honor of George L. Ross, who served as Superintendent-Director from 1967 through 1978. Mr. Ross is credited with being the driving force behind the establishment of the School District in the 1060s.

Monty Tech’s twenty-ninth annual Commencement Exercises were held June 8 on the school’s athletic field. A total of 207 members of the Class of 2000 received diplomas and certificates of vocational-technical proficiency.

The graduates were recognized for their numerous achievements in the areas of academics, vocational-technical skills, athletics, student government and citizenship at the Annual Senior Awards Program held June 6 in the new Performing Arts Center.

Approximately 54 percent of the Class of 2000 went directly into the workforce following graduation; 37 percent went on to higher education, and eight percent entered the military. Of this year’s graduating class of 207, 77 went on to post-secondary institutions; 28 went to four-year colleges and universities; 42, two-year institutions, and 7 went on to pursue other endeavors.

On May 25, 21 Monty Tech honor students participated in the Ninth Annual Honors Scholars’ Recognition Dinner held in the Four Points Hotel, Leominster.

Monty Tech’s thirtieth school year commenced August 29 with an opening day enrollment of 1,150. That figure included 26 students from Holden, the newest member of the School District. Due to increasing enrollment at the upper grade levels and more rigorous graduation requirements, additional staff was hired this year. New programs include a Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. A new child care center was opened and is also serving as training site for the Early Childhood Education Program.

Monty Tech’s adult, post-secondary Practical Nursing Program held its second graduation and pinning ceremony June 28. A total of 27 participants from throughout Central Massachusetts received certificates and pins at the event held in the new Performing Arts Center. Guest speaker was State Representative Mary Jane Simmons (D-Leominster), who is also a practical nurse. Of the graduate, 25 have taken and passed their state boards; two will be taking the test in January 2001. The third year of this 10-month program got underway August 28 with an enrollment of 37 students, both males and females. Enrollment is growing yearly.

In September 21 standout athletes and two special honorees were inducted into Monty Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Athletic Director David F. Reid served as master of ceremonies for the event that included a reception, dinner, awards ceremony and tours of the school’s new Sports Complex/physical Education Center. The recent induction brings to 49 the total number of inductees. The Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1994. In addition, Mr. Reid was named District "E" Athletic Director of the Year.

This fall, the public was invited to tour the twenty-fourth house built in the Montachusett region through Monty Tech’s House Building Program. More than 250 visitors toured the colonial garrison owned by Michael and Amanda MacKenzie of 409 Front Street, Winchendon. The program has been making the dream of home ownership a reality for residents of the School District since it was established in 1976. Students and instructors in the building trades are working on the 25th house currently under construction in Lunenburg.

Two programs established by Assistant Director/Principal John F. Dzerkacz continue to be very successful and have a positive impact on both the student body and faculty. One program, known as POLICE (Police Officers Leading In Community Education), promotes positive relationships between the school community and local police departments. Serving as a model for the state, the program aims to expand the traditional role of the police in the school by encouraging the interaction of students and police on an informal, positive basis. One offshoot of this program is the very popular annual field hockey game held in the fall, where Monty Tech’s varsity girls’ team takes on the Fitchburg Police Department.

More than 1,200 residents of the Montachusett region enrolled in Monty Tech’s Continuing Education Program during 2000. The program provides low-cost, high-quality training through courses in practical arts, enrichment, trade preparation and advancement, and apprenticeship training.

The other program, entitled "Bulldog Pride," a student motivational incentive program, is in its sixth year. It continues to be highly effective in increasing school attendance, decreasing discipline problems and creating a positive school atmosphere. This past year, many deserving students won valuable gifts and prizes, including televisions, VCRs, CD players, mountain bikes, as well as reconditioned cars, for their good efforts and achievement.

School officials continued to provide programs designed to help students better prepare for the state-mandated MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) tests. Initiatives include a weekly silent reading program and an open-ended writing activity, similar to that used on the tests. Freshmen MCAS summer camps, designed to improve reading, math and study skills were held again this past summer. Enrollment for the program, which is funded by a state Department of Education grant, increases annually.

Monty Tech is very proud of its long-standing tradition of helping charitable and civic organizations. Through the efforts of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Skills USA-VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America), numerous area organizations benefit. Some of the past year’s recipients included the Salvation Army, Our Father’s House, Montachusett Veterans’ Outreach Center, Gardner Community Action Committee Inc., U.N.I.C.E.F., American Cancer Society, and the state’s Adopt-A-Highway Program.

Each year, communities in the School District look to Monty Tech to lend a helping hand with a wide variety of municipal projects. The partnership benefits all---students are able to broaden their skills and gain some real work experience, while taxpayers save a considerable sum on labor costs. During 2000, work was performed for the following communities: Westminster, Royalston, Gardner, Hubbardston, Athol and Winchendon.

Monty Tech’s chapter of Skills USA-VICA had another successful year with students winning medals and awards for occupational and leadership skills at local, district and state competitions. A total of 136 medals were won at the local event, the most in the school’s history. At the district-level event, Monty Tech won 32 medals, another all-time record for the school. At the statewide competition, Monty Tech took home a total of 24 medals, the most of any participating school. Last summer, Marie A. Guy of Fitchburg, a member of the Class of 2000, captured a gold medal in the Preschool Teaching Assistant category at the prestigious national competition held in Kansas City, Missouri.

Monty Tech’s Cooperative Education and Job Placement Program provided invaluable work experience for 75 qualified and skilled upperclassmen. Through the program, students gain practical, paid work experience, while enhancing their technical skills working for area businesses during their occupational week. Many are hired for full-time, permanent employment upon graduation. The Lifetime Career Placement Program provided job opportunities for alumni.

Monty Tech’s Business Education Enrichment Fund Committee, better known as B.E.E.F., provides scholarships for higher education, interest-free loans for student business ownership, along with funding and support for career preparedness and enrichment programs. Founded in1988, the group is comprised of area business and industry leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of Monty Tech and its students. In April, B.E.E.F., in conjunction with Superintendent-Director Dukakis, sponsored the 13th annual Superintendent’s Dinner. The school’s major fund-raising event, the dinner attracted approximately 320 guests, many business and industry leaders from throughout the region. This year’s keynote speaker was Senator Thomas F. Birmingham, president of the Massachusetts State Senate.

Another B.E.E.F. sponsored fund-raiser is the annual Monty Tech Scholarship Golf Tournament. The sixth annual event was held September 21 at the Westminster Country Club. Proceeds, totaling approximately $9,000, will fund scholarships and other student-related programs.

Close to 1,800 eighth graders from throughout the School District attended the annual Tour Day Program held October 18 and October 25. Prospective students toured the facilities, met with the faculty and students and learned firsthand what Monty Tech has to offer. Their parents and families were able to tour the facility at the annual Career Awareness Night held October 26.

A number of Monty Tech students were honored during the year for their accomplishments. They include: Jason Z. Farmer of Ashburnham, Class of 2000, chosen as Monty Tech’s nominee for the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators’ 14th annual "Outstanding Vocational-Technical Student Award." Jason received early acceptance to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to pursue a degree in electrical and computer engineering. Jessica Melendez of Fitchburg, president of the Class of 2001, was selected as recipient of the 2000-2001 Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents’ Certificate of Academic Excellence. Katie M. Ferguson of Westminster, Class of 2001, was selected as "Student of the Month" by the Fitchburg Rotary Club. Natalie J. Reed of Hubbardston, Class of 2001, was named student representative to the Monty Tech School Committee and chairman of the Student Advisory Committee, and Catrina Cappucci of Ashby was selected as student representative to Monty Tech’s School Advisory Council.

All of this would not have been accomplished without the support of the School Committee, staff, faculty, students, parents and guardians working together to advance Monty Tech and its goals and objectives. Ashby’s representative to the School Committee, Warren Landry, has been very active in assuring that the vocational technical students at Monty Tech get the beset education possible.

Lastly, the School Committee, administration and staff wish to extend their sincere appreciation for the support of the public officials and citizens of the Town of Ashby in making it possible for our students to receive the highest quality education available.