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March 06. 2013 10:53PM

Nashua school gives lessons in getting ahead


Health Science program students in the Career and Technical Education Program at the Nashua Technology Center in Nashua High School South pose with a dummy they use to train on for their EMT class. (BENJAMIN C. KLEIN/Union Leader Correspondent)
NASHUA - With more than 1,000 students from districts around southern New Hampshire, the Nashua Technology Center is designed to give regional high school students a leg up against the competition whether they are going to college or straight into the professional world.



With roughly 20 programs spread across the Nashua North and South high schools, the Career and Technical Education programs offer students a plethora of options.

With options such as Automotive Technology, Culinary Arts, Marketing, Computer Networking and Cosmetology, NTC Director Marianne Dustin said the goal of the program is to give kids a head start in a very competitive job market.

"We try to match students with meaningful careers; in essence that is what we try to do. We want them to be career or college ready," said Michelle Papanicolau, CTE co-director.

Senior Dominic Perrault took business classes his junior year and now runs the school store. He said he wants to go into the business world after school, and that running a business while still in high school is "definitely a great stepping stone."

Perrault proudly added that the store is currently in the black.

Early Childhood Education students Jordan Friedman, Miranda Claar and Jessica Coughlin, all seniors, agreed the program has helped clarify their career goals. Friedman said she wants to be a kindergarten or first-grade teacher, and Coughlin said she wants to work in an elementary school.

Claar said students in the Early Childhood Education program get real life experience because they help run an on-site preschool with 40 children and also help out in district elementary schools.

The Health Science program includes students who want to be EMTs, emergency room doctors and army medics. Senior Melissa Lambert said the class helped her understand that she wants to be an EMT after school, and senior Ryan Milliken called the CTE programs "awesome."

"It is a lot easier than paying for it in college, and it gives you a step in the door before everyone else," he said.

Students in Construction Technology also received valuable experience recently when they were tasked with building a modular home. Students across different CTE programs helped finish it, and now the Construction Technology program has moved on to new projects, including the sheds they are now building.

"I think this class is very good. It helps people who are good working with their hands. It lets them do what they like to do," said senior Joshua Veillette.

Fellow construction student Tylor Fronk, a junior, said the construction program is preparing him for a career in construction.

Jeff Leone, a video production instructor, said he is amazed at how quickly students learn while having so much information about editing, personal service announcements, script writing, directing, production, editing, recording and short films thrown at them.

"They learn all the basics," said Leone.

Junior Jackie Cantara said she wants to be a director and that the class is helping develop her talent. Taylor Zaccagnini said he wants to direct, but that he would be willing to do anything to work on a movie.

Participating districts in the CTE programs include Hudson, Litchfield, Merrimack, Milford, Amherst and the Hollis-Brookline High School. Papanicolau said each school from outside Nashua is charged for transportation and tuition costs for each student they send.

Due to various revenue streams that account for the funding of the NTC, including more than $300,000 annually in federal funding, Papanicolau said it would be difficult to calculate what the final cost of the NTC is to the Nashua School District each year.

Giving examples of how CTE programs give students a leg up over the competition, Dustin said students in Electrical Technology would have 180 hours toward their apprenticeship, which is needed for them to become licensed, and that many students can earn college credits through the work that they do.

To ensure students are getting proper training, Dustin said all classes are certified through the state, and that many instructors come directly from the field they are teaching in.

Along with offering courses teaching students the skills they need to be qualified for employment, Dustin said the NTC also fosters relationships between students and regional employees so they can find those jobs.

Dustin said representatives from companies and groups such as the Nashua/Manchester Homebuilders and Remodelers Association, who visited with students Wednesday night, put on events so students can make connections and see what job opportunities are out there.

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