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Superintendent-Director Stratos G. Dukakis is pleased to announce that 1998 will be noted as the year the school's long-awaited and much-needed expansion/modernization project became a reality. After much planning and preparation, and with approval and support from the School District's member communities, ground was broken this past summer. A ceremony was held in August to mark this auspicious occasion. On hand were school and local political dignitaries, along with representatives from the architectural and general construction firms handling the project. Construction is scheduled to be completed in January 2000. The state is picking up 76 percent of the costs.
A total of 168 members of the Class of 1998 received diplomas and certificates of vocational-technical proficiency at the twenty-seventh annual commencement exercises held June 5 in the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Physical Education Complex at Mount Wachusett Community College. Keynote speaker was Dr. Louis Amadio, former Superintendent of Leominster Schools, who urged the graduates "to get involved and give something back to society."
At the annual Senior Awards Program, members of the graduation class were presented awards and scholarships in recognition of their many achievements in the areas of academics, vocational-technical skills, athletics, student government and citizenship.
Monty Tech's 28th year of operation began for all students on Wednesday, Sept. 9, a bit later than usual due to the construction. Enrollment continues to climb, with this year's reaching an all-time high of 1150. School officials project the number will soon reach 1,200.
The 1998-99 student body includes 27 adults enrolled in Monty Tech's new Practical Nursing Program. The new students were officially welcomed by school officials at a reception held prior to the start-up of classes. The program, consisting of four 10-week sessions, has been designed to meet the state's prerequisite of 1,080 hours of classroom and clinical practice needed to apply for licensing. Marjorie Tremblay of Holden is program director.
Monty Tech's student motivational incentive program, established four years ago by Assistant Director-Principal John F. Dzerkacz, continues to be effective in increasing school attendance, decreasing discipline problems and creating a better school atmosphere. This past year, many deserving students won valuable gifts and prizes, including three cars, for their good efforts and achievements. A growing list of area businesses serve as prime supporters for this very worthwhile program known as "Bull Dog Pride."
Monty Tech is very fortunate to have a support group such as our Business Education Enrichment Fund Committee, also known as B.E.E.F. Founded in 1988, it is comprised of area business and industry leaders who work tirelessly to raise funds for scholarships and to provide programs and activities not included in the regular school budget. The group also provides interest-free loans for students interested in business ownership. Other activities they provide include a student mentoring program; funding a co-op position; job shadowing and career-preparedness programs.
B.E.E.F. is also a major supporter of Monty Tech's annual Benefit Golf Tournament. The fourth annual event, held September 17 at Westminster Country Club, raised $11,355 for scholarships and other-student related programs.
Another example of B.E.E.F.'s outstanding work on behalf of Monty Tech and its students is the Annual Superintendent's Dinner, held each spring since it was established by the group in 1988. More than 300 guests, representing area business and industry, attended this year's gala event, which featured a multi-course gourmet dinner prepared and served by instructors and students in the Culinary Arts Department. Guest speakers were State Auditor Joseph DeNucci and former Boston Red Sox shortstop and third baseman Rico Petrocelli.
Superintendent Dukakis is proud to report that technology continues to be a top priority here at Monty Tech. This is evidenced by the fact that 100 percent of classrooms and trade areas have computer and Internet access. According to a recent report issued by the State Department of Education, Monty Tech is ranked second in the state in technology based on student ratio to high-speed computers; student ratio to all computers; percentage of classrooms with Internet access, and per pupil expenditures.
On the lighter side, theater is alive and well at Monty Tech! This past year, under the tutelage of a new director, science instructor Paula deDiego, the Drama Club entertained audiences with a number of great productions. The list includes "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and "The Lollipop Trio," the latter is a one-act comedy written by deDiego and her husband, Robert. The group also sponsored a talent show and a band competition. The most recent effort included "Phantom of the Soap Opera," a musical.
Monty Tech can now add field hockey to its long and varied list of sports. Coach Deanne Pananos, who is also a mathematics teacher, said the fledgling team of 16 is "enthusiastic and improved tremendously over the season." Pananos, who coached field hockey at Leominster High for nine years and softball for 10, also coaches softball at Monty Tech.
The Continuing Education Program has been providing low-cost, high-quality training through courses in practical arts, enrichment, trade preparation and advancement, and apprenticeship training since 1971. Course offerings continue to expand each year to reflect recent trends in the region's job market, particularly in the computer and medical fields. During this year, 900 students were enrolled for the spring session and 700 for the fall session.
Monty Tech's Co-Operative Education and Job Placement program continues to provide invaluable work experience for many qualified and skilled upperclassmen. Through the program, students are able to gain practical paid work experience, while enhancing their technical skills working during school time for area businesses. Many are hired for full-time, permanent employment upon graduation. Approximately a third of the seniors and 15 percent of the juniors are currently enrolled. The Lifetime Career Placement program provides job opportunities to graduates.
During 1998, Monty Tech's chapter of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, also know as VICA, continued its long-standing tradition of winning medals and awards for trade and leadership skills at local, district, state and national competitions. A total of 64 medals were won at the local competition; 19 at districts (including two students qualifying as state officer candidates); 12 at states, and a silver medal at the national event. In addition, the group has been very active in their fund-raising efforts benefiting a number of local, state and national groups. They are also participating in the state’s Adopt-A-Highway Program. Because of their outstanding and tireless efforts, Monty Tech’s VICA was named second in the state for community service work.
Monty Tech’s chapter of the National Honor Society also has a long-standing tradition of community service. Over the years, the group has made the holidays brighter for many families in the region through its annual holiday food drive held in conjunction with the Montachusett Corps of the Salvation Army. In the spring, the students, under the direction of adviser Irene Moody, participate in the American Cancer Society’s Annual Daffodil Drive. Membership is at an all-time high with 36 students.
Twice a year, prospective students, their families and members of the community are invited to visit the school and see for themselves what vocational-technical education is all about and what is has to offer students, employers and the community. The Career Awareness Program, held in the fall, and Open House, held in the spring, continue to attract many interested visitors year after year.
In addition to the Career Awareness Program, Monty Tech sponsors three additional programs, specifically designed to increase awareness among the region’s middle and junior high students about the numerous and diverse educational and career opportunities available today through vocational-technical education. These unique programs include the Annual Tour Day Program, whereby eighth graders from the area’s sending schools have the opportunity to tour the school. Close to 1,600 students participated in this year’s event which was held on two days. "Project VIP" (Vocational Interest Program), allows prospective students (7th and 8th graders) to get a head start on an exciting and interesting career through participation in an after-school career exploratory program. This program, offered twice a year, was initiated a few years ago through a School-To-Work grant. This past summer marked the eleventh year that "Project Crossroads," another grant-funded program, has been providing local disadvantaged youth the opportunity to earn a paycheck while exploring career programs, learning basic job skills and receiving an introduction to the world of work.
Monty Tech’s House Building Program continues to make home ownership a reality for families in north Worcester County. To date, 22 homes have been built by students and instructors in the House Carpentry program. In October, the school sponsored an open house at the 1997-98 house project, a massive contemporary-styled house located on Whitney Street in Gardner. More than 300 visitors toured the new home.
As soon as school started in September, work crews were back on the job building the twenty-third house, a split-level ranch going up on Pleasant Street in Athol. The Cabinetmaking, Electrical, Plumbing, Drafting Technology, Welding/Metal Fabrication, and Graphic Communications departments also participate in the program.
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 best 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.