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Arlington Minuteman student gets honorable mention for public-service poster

Jack Ross poster, 2017Poster by Jack Ross of Arlington.

Two students from Minuteman High School in Lexington have earned awards for posters they created for an annual public-service announcement and poster competition sponsored by the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth and the Middlesex District Attorney's Office. This year's theme was "Challenge Yourself -- Be Resilient."

Melanie Hennessey, a junior from Dover, was the overall winner for her poster, "Smooth Seas." John "Jack" Ross, a junior from Arlington, earned an honorable mention for his poster, "New Heights." Both students are in the design and visual communications program at Minuteman, said their teacher, Maria Galante.

Ross said his poster "represents challenge and resilience through a man climbing up a very large, steep cliff. The poster implies that challenging tasks build up strength and courage, thus bringing you to 'new heights.'"

Students who entered the competition were asked to create posters conveying a message to teens about the importance of being resilient, a quality that can help them cope with setbacks, motivate them to seek out challenging new experiences and become productive, healthy adults.

More than 100 entries were submitted by middle- and high school students in Middlesex County, according to Stephanie Guyotte, director of programs and outreach for the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth. The judges included staff from the district attorney's office, police officers, educators and school administrators.

The students will be honored this month at a ceremony with Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. The winning poster will be printed and distributed to Middlesex County schools. Posters will also be shared on the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth website.

The group brings together various individuals and organizations dedicated to improving, enhancing and safeguarding the well-being of young people throughout Middlesex County.

This news announcement was published Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.

$108,172 grant to boost Minuteman biotech

Minuteman High School has landed another major grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to help upgrade its biotechnology program. The $108,172 competitive grant will enable the school to outfit its biotechnology lab with more advanced equipment and send two teachers to intensive training in the latest techniques.

Minuteman High School logo

The grant will enable Minuteman to expand its biomanufacturing capability through the purchase of $100,000 in equipment, including three biological safety cabinets Class II hoods and three single-stage vacuum pumps to run the hoods. The hoods are essential for maintaining sterility and aseptic technique in growing animal cells and microbes in the school lab.

The grant will also enable Minuteman to update the water-purification system in its biotechnology lab to meet industry standards. The purified water is required for cell growth, molecular biology and biomanufacturing.

"We're extremely grateful to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and to the Baker administration for this investment in education," Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, Minuteman's superintendent, said in a news release. "This equipment will help us strengthen the Biotechnology pipeline and prepare our students for careers in one of the state’s fastest-growing industries."

3D printers, teacher program

The grant will also allow Minuteman to purchase two 3D printers to introduce students to cutting-edge technologies used in micronutrient research and production and in tissue culture. 3D printers create models that allow students to visualize cell and tissue structure and better understand related diseases and how to target them. Knowing 3D printing is fast becoming an essential skill for biotechnicians.

In addition to the $100,000 for equipment, Minuteman received $8,172 to enable biotechnology teachers Patrick Rafter and Mark Jurman to take a four-day certificate program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute titled "Microbial Fermentation Development, Scale-up and Manufacturing."

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center received a record-high 105 applications for equipment funds. It approved 49 applications totaling $4.3 million.

The center is a state agency charged with administering a $1 billion state investment in the life sciences. As part of that investment, it has funded five rounds of equipment grants to Massachusetts middle schools and high schools to improve the delivery of instruction in the life sciences.

Minuteman is an award-winning regional high school that integrates robust academic and career & technical learning to deliver a revolutionary competitive advantage.

Pending local permitting, Minuteman is planning to break ground soon on a new 628-student high school, in Lincoln, consisting of two career academies supporting a total of 16 high-quality career and technical education programs.

This news announcement was published Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.

Minuteman, area workforce board promote girls in STEM

Minuteman High School and Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce Inc. are joining forces to expand opportunities for young high school women seeking careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). With the help of a $14,500 competitive state grant, Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce will assist in funding a series of activities for Minuteman's award-winning Girls in STEM program.

Minuteman High School logoAmong other things, the grant will help Minuteman operate a Girls in STEM Vacation Camp, enable students to visit and explore a host of STEM employers and laboratories, and launch the creation of a STEM library of books and audiovisual materials related to STEM fields.

"This gives a big boost to the Minuteman Girls in STEM program," Michelle Roche, director of career and technical education at Minuteman, said in a news release. "We're grateful to Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce and look forward to this new collaboration."

Kelley French, director of youth programs at Partnerships, said in the release: "We have a strong history of promoting STEM in the Marlborough Public Schools,” said “This new collaboration allows us to make more of an impact throughout our region."

Three years ago, Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce won a sizable federal grant to partner with Marlborough High School to create an in-depth STEM curriculum. For more information on the program, click here >> 

For two consecutive years, Minuteman's Girls in STEM program has received national awards from SkillsUSA, an organization that runs skill and leadership competitions for students in career and technical high schools across the nation.

Girls in STEM was launched several years ago at the urging of Superintendent Dr. Edward Bouquillon, who recognized the need to increase the number of young women in STEM-related career training programs. Since that time, Minuteman’s Girls in STEM has run after-school programs, field trips and vacation camps and actively promoted STEM programs to dozens of female high school and middle school students in the region.

Under the Girls in STEM model, female adults working in STEM fields serve as mentors for Minuteman High School students interested in pursuing STEM careers. In turn, the female Minuteman students serve as mentors for female middle school students interested in exploring STEM careers.

Until now, the program has operated without any financial support from the state, using unspent local funds if they were available. The new source of funding comes from a Connecting Activities STEM Career Vocational Technical Education Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce is the regional workforce board covering 43 cities and towns. Those include most of the member communities in Minuteman's 16-town district.

Minuteman recently secured state and local funding to build a new $144.9 million school, including 16 career and technical programs in two career academies. Groundbreaking is expected to occur this spring, with the new school being open to students in the fall of 2019.

This news announcement was published Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.

Arlington senior among 2nd term's outstanding Minuteman students

Left to right - Design and Visual Communications Teacher Allison Barry, senior Catherine Maxwell of Arlington, and Design and Visual Communications Teacher Maria Galante. / Brian Tildsley photoFrom left are teacher Allison Barry, senior Catherine Maxwell of Arlington, and teacher Maria Galante. / Brian Tildsley photo

Minuteman High School has selected four Students of the Term for current school year's second term.

This honor is awarded every term to one student from each grade level based on nominations from teachers. The criteria include exceptional academic achievement and good citizenship, Assistant Principal Brian Tildsley said.

The students chosen are freshman Paul Gleason of Wayland, sophomore Tazmin Anbar of Watertown, junior Brodie Hawkes of Waltham and senior Catherine Maxwell of Arlington.

All four were given certificates in recognition of this award, had a photo taken with the teachers who nominated them and were treated to lunch at Minuteman's student-run restaurant, The Fife & Drum.

"Whether Catherine Maxwell is providing design, illustration, photography and video, or helping to encourage other students, her contribution helps make it a success," her design and visual communications teacher, Maria Galante, said in a news release. Maxwell has consistently solid grades, a willingness to volunteer at Minuteman events and participates in the National Honor Society and the Drama Club, she said.

Her talent and creativity have been recognized at school and in the community. An organization called Arlington EATS recently chose a logo Catherine designed for its upcoming musical fund-raiser called beats for EATS. Minuteman Principal Jack Dillon selected her design for the school's holiday card.

Gleason is in the Biotechnology program and hopes to be a bioengineer someday. Science is his favorite subject. His teacher, Gary Sypteras, wrote of Paul, "In addition to working hard, he has gone beyond what is expected and continually shares chemical knowledge he has learned with me and the class." A well-informed and enthusiastic student, Paul exhibits great eagerness to learn and often voluntarily uses his free period to discuss topics of particular interest to him with Mr. Sypteras.

Anbar likes algebra and English, and is concentrating in Cosmetology. Her hobbies include drawing and singing. "She is an extremely hard-working, bright, and polite young woman who is a leader in our grade 10 Language Arts class," wrote her English teacher, Kathryn Anderson. "Tazmin shows that she knows that hard work and focus will lead to her success. She consistently does some of the best work in the class, and she doesn’t stop until she gets the results she wants." Anderson praised Tazmin's "vocabulary and writing fluency, determination and respectful attitude."

Hawkes, who is studying Environmental Technology, stands out because she is "the type of student every teacher loves to have in the classroom," according to her teacher, Terry Regan. "She is quiet, attentive, respectful, and hard-working. She stays engaged in the classwork, asks good questions, and does not have to be prompted to stay on task." Brodie participates in classroom discussions and likes taking a leadership role in group projects. Regan also lauded her attendance and conduct. Brodie looks forward to having a career in drinking water treatment

This announcement was published Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.

Smaller Minuteman budget OK'd, but town share rises to $4.2M

Deficiency fund holds down members' increases

Minteman High School logo

For the second year in a row, the Minuteman School Committee has adopted a budget for the coming year that is smaller than the previous one.

On Jan. 31, the School Committee voted to adopt a budget of $19,449,466. That's $278,631 -- or 1.41 percent -- smaller than the fiscal 2017 budget. The vote was 12-0. The new budget runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.

"With this budget," Superintendent Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon said in a news release, "we are continuing to move toward a smaller school designed for fewer students."

The fiscal 2018 budget continues a multiyear transition to a new school with a smaller student enrollment. The new budget continues to phase out two vocational-technical education programs, merge two others and phase in two new programs: advanced manufacturing and multimedia engineering.

It eliminates or keeps vacant a total of three full-time positions. It includes $100,000 for the school's stabilization account and sets aside $50,000 for other post-Employment Benefits.

By using $600,000 in excess and deficiency funds, the committee will hold the aggregate assessment increase to member towns to $607,744. The 5.55-percent increase in assessments is primarily caused by a decline in nonresident tuition revenue, a decline attributed to the lowering of nonresident tuition rates by the state commissioner of education and an overall reduction in nonmember students attending the school.

Arlington's assessment

Arlington's projected assessment for fiscal 2018 is $4,291,333, up from 3,649,349 in fiscal 2017. That is a rise of $641,984.

The expected amount is about $197,000 more than is shown in Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine's 2018 budget message, released in January -- $4,099,059.

The reduction in nonmember student enrollment is because of a new state regulation requiring ninth-graders to "explore" vocational programs in their home district, even if the home district does not offer what the student wants.

Minuteman officials noted that the school's operating budgets and assessments have not increased significantly over the past 10 years.

For the second year in a row, Minuteman also received a glowing annual financial audit from Melanson & Heath, its auditing firm. That audit included no findings and no recommendations.

The Minuteman district currently includes 16 member towns: Acton, Arlington, Belmont, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Lincoln, Needham, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston. Leaving the district July 1 are Boxborough, Carlisle, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston. Belmont leave July 1, 2020.

The fiscal 2017 budget totaled $19.7 million, $103,000, or 0.52 percent lower, than the fiscal 2016 budget of $19.8 million.

Minuteman High School provides students with a high-quality career and technical education, coupled with a rigorous grounding in mathematics, English, science, and social studies. This combination gives students a competitive advantage in the new economy.

In its accountability ratings, the state ranks Minuteman as a "Level 1" school, the highest rating possible.

Minuteman is an accredited member of the New England Association of Schools & Colleges.

This announcement was published Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

Winning logo touts music, food for March Arlington EATS event

beats for EATS logo

Minuteman senior from Arlington offers whimsy

Catherine Maxwell of Arlington, a senior at Minuteman High School, haswon a competition to create a logo for the second annual beats for EATS, an upcoming musical event that will benefit Arlington EATS.

That organization helps provide students in the Arlington public schools who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches during the school year with nutritious food at other times, such as school vacations and weekends.

Beats for EATS will take place on March 11 at Arlington Town Hall and will feature live music, dancing and an online auction.

The logo design competition sponsored by Arlington EATS was open only to design and visual communications students at Minuteman. The whimsical winning entry depicts a saxophone with a slice of bread, musical notes and pieces of fruit coming out of it.

Arlington EATS came to Minuteman’s design and visual communications students when they needed a memorable emblem for their event because "their skills are great, based on the logo designs we had to choose from, and their teacher, Maria Galante, has been very professional," Julie Lucey, the cochair of beats for EATS and a member of the Arlington EATS steering committee, said in a news release. "We were especially thrilled to learn, after we had chosen the logo, that it was created by a Thompson School alumna."

Arlington EATS is headquartered at the Thompson.

Maxwell’s logo will be used in all print and online publicity for beats for EATS, Lucey said. "There will be a poster in front of Town Hall, programs, posters, invitations and signs and extensive online presence through the Arlington EATS Facebook page and website."

The winning logo appealed to the representatives from Arlington EATS for two key reasons, Lucey said. "We loved Catherine's fresh and clean approach to combining the two integral pieces of this event -- music and food. We also like that the red ribbon around the instrument will complement our lunchbox logo well. That was important, because the two pieces will always appear together."

Maxwell said: "It means a lot to me to win this contest because I live in Arlington and have done volunteer work for Arlington EATS. For them to pick my logo was really amazing. Getting to see them use my design is really a great feeling."

For more information about Arlington EATS, see its website >>  

This announcement was published Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

Firm to oversee construction of new Minuteman High School vows year-early finish

The Minuteman School Building Committee has selected the Gilbane Building Co. of Providence to serve as construction manager at risk for its new high school, designed to accommodate 628 students. The contractor promised to finish a year earlier than other bidders.

Gilbane will be responsible for providing preconstruction services and delivering construction of a new Minuteman High School within a "guaranteed maximum price."

Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, Minuteman’s superintendent, praised the selection. "Gilbane’s presentation was most compatible with the educational, economic and community goals of building the new school on time and on budget," he said. "Their experience in building high-performing, high-quality vocational technical schools was compelling."

Fall 2019 opening forecast

Under the construction schedule outline by Gilbane and warmly received by the Minuteman School Committee, the new school would be ready for occupancy by students in the fall of 2019, one full year ahead of all previous estimates.

Asked for the contract amount for the construction manager, a spokesman for Minuteman wrote Jan. 24 that the administration is still awaiting the executed contract from Gilbane. "Gilbane is confident that it can bring in the project on time and under the MSBA-approved budget of $144.9 million," Steve Sharek wrote.

With world headquarters in Rhode Island, Gilbane has more than 50 offices throughout the world, including one in Boston. It manages more than 1,000 construction projects across the globe.

Gilbane has been a leading construction company in Massachusetts for seven decades, serving commercial and public clients, including a host of schools and colleges. These include the University of Massachusetts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Tufts University, Boston’s Dearborn STEM Academy, Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School and the Winthrop Middle/High School.

Nine firms expressed interest in the job, and five submitted Proposals to serve as construction manager at risk. A nine-member subcommittee of the school-building committee interviewed the five finalists and unanimously recommended Gilbane. That decision was ratified by the building committee on Jan. 9 and endorsed by the district School Committee on Jan. 19.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) encourages hiring a construction managers at risk. The MSBA can provide an extra percentage point of funding to districts that retain them.

The Minuteman project is expected to cost $144.9 million. The MSBA has committed to paying about $44 million of that, with the rest to be paid by member towns through annual capital assessments and by non-member towns that send students to Minuteman through revenue generated by a new state-imposed "capital fee."

The new school will include two career academies housing a total of 16 career and technical education majors, ranging from biotechnology and robotics to advanced manufacturing and multimedia engineering.

The project is currently on time and on budget, said a district news release issued Jan. 23.

Pending permitting from the Town of Lincoln, groundbreaking would take place this spring. Under an ambitious construction schedule outline by Gilbane, occupancy by students would occur in fall 2019. Demolition of the existing school building and construction of athletic fields would be completed by the summer of 2020.

This news brief was published Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017.

FIRSTHAND: Nearly 400 local eighth-graders learn about Minuteman's tech programs

Minuteman High School logo

Last fall, nearly 400 eighth-graders from 16 local middle schools voluntarily visited Minuteman High School in Lexington to learn more about its technical programs as they begin the decision-making process that will culminate in their choice of a high school to attend for the next four years.

Each student was allowed to pick two technical programs to visit, gather information about, and listen to students and teachers associated with those programs. Minuteman offers 18 technical programs organized into two academies – Engineering, Construction & Trades, and Life Sciences & Services.

This was the second consecutive year that area middle-schoolers were invited to Minuteman for 90 minutes to discover the benefits of a career and technical education. Minuteman Assistant Principal/Admissions Director George M. Clement said the experience has been successful both times.

Such recruiting events are held in the fall, and not the spring.

"In 2015, we saw a 41 percent increase in applications from the year prior. I just felt it was great," he said in a Jan. 15 news release, adding that the visitors seemed to enjoy the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Minuteman. "It’s a very important recruitment opportunity for us."

Teachers made presentations to the middle-schoolers, and approximately 100 Minuteman students volunteered to help with the event by setting up presentations and demos. "Our students are our best asset," Clement said. "We’re integrating them into the process. They make it credible. That’s why I think it's working."

He feels that their enthusiasm for Minuteman -- and the key role they play in creating a positive climate at the school -- are two powerful draws for the eighth-graders. "If you have students who love their school that much, how could you not want to come here?" Clement asked.

If there is one crucial takeaway that Clement would like the eighth-graders to remember, it's this: "We're offering focused education that leads to endless opportunities."

For example, a student who takes culinary arts at Minuteman and earns a four-year college degree can embark on any of several viable career paths -- including chef, nutritionist or dietitian. With a background in cosmetology, someone can work in a salon or spa, or become a chemist who creates beauty products. The possibilities are nearly limitless, a definite plus in the ever-changing modern global economy.

Speaking of the middle-school students, Clement said, "The message here is to aspire. It's about getting kids to see what their passion is, and that Minuteman is a legitimate pathway to realizing their dreams."

Minuteman was established in the 1970s as one of more than two dozen regional-vocational technical high schools in Massachusetts. Over the years, the school has distinguished itself by building a reputation for excellence. Minuteman students consistently excel on the larger stage and have won numerous awards at state and national competitions.  Minuteman challenges all students to revolutionize their high school expectations by aspiring to their full potential, accelerating their learning, and achieving success in the 21st-century global community.

This announcement was published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017.

Minuteman rated tops for short-term bonds, audit

Minuteman High School logo

The Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District got some excellent financial news this month.

First, the district was assigned the highest short-term municipal bond rating possible by rating agency Standard and Poor's. Second, for the second year in a row, the district received a spotless bill of health from its auditing firm, Melanson Heath

"We're very proud of these accomplishments," said Superintendent Edward A. Bouquillon in a news release Wednesday, Dec. 14. "This is the result of a lot of hard work by many people, most notably Assistant Superintendent of Finance Kevin Mahoney and his staff."

Leaders on the Minuteman School Committee agreed. "Congratulations and sincere thanks are clearly due here," said Carrie Flood of Concord, vice chair of the School Committee, in the release. "Not only have Kevin [Mahoney] and other members of the district administration taken appropriate steps to address findings that arose in prior audits they have been proactive in terms of policy, procedure, and practice with regard to the ongoing management of District finances."

In a Dec. 1, 2016, letter to the school, S&P Global Ratings assigned the District an "SP-1+" rating, the highest rating possible for short-term municipal notes. It assigned the rating for an $8 million general obligation bond anticipation note for Minuteman's high school construction project.

The school also learned this month that its auditing firm would be making no audit findings for fiscal year 2016 – the second year in a row that that has happened. Observers say that public agencies such as the Minuteman School District rarely receive audits where the auditors make no findings.

Sheryl Stephens-Burke, a representative from Melanson Heath of Andover, met with the School Committee on Dec. 13 to review the latest audit.

This announcement was published Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.

2 from Arlington among Minuteman's first-term standouts

Minuteman High School has selected four Students of the Term for the first marking period, and two are from Arlington.

Chosen were freshman Ashanty Montina of Everett, sophomore Erica Grandon of Arlington, junior Ari Joseph Thomas of Lexington and senior Jonathan Meister of Arlington. 

All four were given certificates in recognition and were treated to lunch at Minuteman's student-run restaurant, The Fife & Drum.

This honor is awarded every term to one student from each grade level based on nominations from teachers. The criteria include exceptional academic achievement and good citizenship, Assistant Principal Brian Tildsley said.

Grandon is studying electrical Wiring and likes honors biology and Spanish. She’s thinking of attending business school in the future and possibly being in the union.

Owning her own electrical business is another potential goal for her. She plays soccer and tennis and spends time with her friends when she can.

She thanks her parents for being supportive and helpful. Assistant to the Admissions Director Sue Murphy wrote, "Erica is awesome in soccer and helps out as a Student Ambassador speaking and visiting a bunch of schools. She always represents Minuteman well and takes initiative when people need a volunteer."

Meister is in the robotics and automation program. His favorite academic subject is Applied Physics II. Becoming an electrical engineer who does hands-on work is a goal of Jonathan's, along with earning a bachelor's and perhaps a master's degree in electrical engineering.

His extracurricular activities include SkillsUSA, working on his Eagle Scout project by volunteering 100 hours at the Arlington Historical Society,
being an assistant senior patrol leader with the Boy Scouts and participating in the Savage Soccer robot competition.

In his spare time, he builds things that use electricity, and goes kayaking and scuba diving.

He thanks his parents, Jeanne and Larry. Math teacher Jon Skogstrom wrote, "When Jonathan gets a low grade he always immediately does what's necessary to learn the material, never getting down on himself or assigning blame. He takes his new grade cheerfully knowing that he's done his best and that's good enough for him, even if it's not an A.  He's committed to the school and i also here late at night for extra math, an AP statistics class. He's my clear choice."


This announcement was published 


This announcement was published Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016.

Minuteman shows appreciation to 2 advisers

At Minuteman High School’s annual Advisory Committee Appreciation Dinner recently, keynote speaker Francis X. Callahan Jr., president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO, observed that students who learn the building trades at vocational-technical high schools like Minuteman typically excel because they are extremely well-prepared and know what to anticipate when they begin their careers.

"We want to work with you," Callahan told the audience, which comprised Minuteman staff as well as professionals representing the career and technical education fields taught at the school.

Two Advisory Board members were honored for generously contributing their time and expertise to Minuteman for many years: Al Fox of Arlington (at left) and Dominic Camilli Jr. of Watertown.

Fox, a cabinet maker and draftsman, has served on the Carpentry Advisory Board since 1982 and is its vice chair. His four children attended Minuteman and have used their education as the foundation for successful careers.

In an interview, Fox spoke of the satisfaction he derives from helping Minuteman, noting that he feels he is "doing something good in the community."

Camilli, a Minuteman alumnus, has been a member of the Health Assisting Advisory Board since 2005. He is the fire captain of Hanscom Air Force Base and has given countless hours of support to Minuteman as a guest speaker on ethics, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and appropriate behavior in the healthcare field.

Camilli encourages others to serve on the school’s advisory boards. "It is paramount that those in the trades and occupations that Minuteman provides to students to be proactive and give as much time as they can so that Minuteman can be on the cutting edge of education and skills."

Each Chapter 74-approved career program at a vocational-technical school is required to have a panel of practicing professionals called an advisory board. They supply guidance about curriculum, industry trends and state-of-the-art equipment. Minuteman has more than 350 members on its 20 advisory boards, including students, parents and guardians, industry and business partners and representatives from organized labor, apprenticeship programs and postsecondary institutions.

In his address, Callahan pointed out that years ago, unions viewed vocational-technical schools as competition, but that situation has changed. "It’s no longer the case," he said. "It shouldn’t be the case."

The Massachusetts Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO, represents 75,000 men and women in the construction trades from 74 local unions and District Councils across the state. He is also an executive vice president of the 400,000-member Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

In an interview, Callahan explained, "Students benefit in many ways from a strong relationship between the trades and career and technical schools. First and foremost is access to continued education and training through Joint Labor Management Apprenticeship Training programs. Building trades unions and our signatory contractors invest more than $40 million per year to provide the best training available in state-of-the-art facilities.

"We need more women in the trades. It’s not just for boys."

There are abundant opportunities for qualified females, Callahan said, citing the building boom in Massachusetts as well as the aging workforce in the construction trades.

Christopher Bateman, Minuteman’s General Advisory Board chairman, president of the Minuteman Futures Foundation and managing partner of Lexx Restaurant in Lexington, delivered the evening’s opening remarks.

Minuteman Superintendent Dr. Edward Bouquillon said, "We have been working on this [getting approval for a new Minuteman building] for eight years. The word that comes to my mind is gratitude," he said, referring to all whose efforts made the decisive difference. He said Minuteman has until Nov. 30, to complete the design plans for its new facility.

Anyone interested in being on an advisory board at Minuteman can contact Advisory Committee Operations Lead Maryanne Ham, at 781-861-6500 x7323 or email mnham[@] 

This news release was published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.

Minuteman engineering students get firsthand look at challenges ahead

Six Minuteman High School seniors were recently shown three residential and one commercial property in Needham to kick-start the Project Lead the Way course called Civil Engineering and Architecture.

Guiding them were engineering teacher Becky Quay and Vicky Seriy, a real estate associate at Benoit Mizner Simon & Co., a school news release said.

Project Lead the Way

According to the Project Lead the way website, "Through our pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, students not only learn technical skills, but also learn to solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate, and collaborate” via real-world educational experiences.

Minuteman engineering students can take the Civil Engineering and Architecture class during their senior year and receive college credit from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute or the Rochester Institute of Technology after successfully completing it. During this course, they learn architectural concepts of design as well as structural and site design. To begin this learning process, students studied several different types of architecture, and they observed various types of floor-plan layouts when Seriy showed them homes in the Needham area.

The first stop was at 143 Hunnewell Ave., listed with Agapi Sfakianakis at Century 21 Commonwealth. The students met Demos Skipitaris from Alphi Development and Scott Harris from Consolidated Contractors, who spent two hours going over the construction design specs, architecture and innovative materials used for energy efficiency in the new construction home, as well as the effort required to build this home.

Touring new construction

After that, the group followed Seriy to another new construction home in Needham, on 97 Great Plain Ave, built by DiFazio Development. The students made sketches and studied the architectural layout. The third house the group saw was a 1947 Cape on 140 Grant St., which was completely renovated by Christian Carvill with True Value Properties. The students were able to see how an older home can be turned into an oversized brick-front Cape with current updates and charm.

The final destination was a commercial property on 26 Ossipee Road in Newton N2 Square, owned by 1238 Chestnut Street Trust. Here, students saw the steel structure of a large commercial building, as well as a different layout of office space and lab layout and freight elevators.

This highly educational trip brought substance beyond the classroom that will be referred to over the course of the school year, the release said.

Asked what they thought of the field trip, Kahmann said, "It was a great opportunity to see firsthand how drawings and models translated into actual structures."

Georgoudis said, "I thought the field trip was a good visual aid for the material that we learned and are going to learn. It was also good to learn real-life benefits of certain building materials."

As Seriy reflected, "The students were respectful, completely engaged, and knowledgeable. It was my pleasure facilitating this opportunity to our future architects and engineers to see the new construction, beautiful architecture, and design of the future."

This announcement was published Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016.

Belmont Town Meeting votes to leave Minuteman district

Minuteman High School logo

UPDATED, Oct. 20: Belmont Town Meeting members have voted to leave the Minutemnan School District.

The neighboring meeting members voted, 172-66, to leave on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at a Special Town Meeting, school spokesman Steve Sharek said the next day. The percentages are 72 to 28. Under the Minuteman agreement, a two-thirds margin was required.

Selectman Dan Dunn told selectmen Oct. 17 that nine of 16 towns would have to vote in Special Town Meetings to oppose Belmont's departure. The remaining member towns would have 60 days to call those meetings.

Asked to comment, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine wrote, Thursday. Oct. 20: "There is the potential that a Special Town Meeting will be called, but further discussions need to occur before I would be comfortable saying that I expect one to be called. I believe the Board of Selectmen will be discussing this at its next meeting, and we should have more clarity after that."

Selectmen next meet Monday, Oct. 31

Sept. 20 special-election numbers certified

If a member town does not seek a meeting to take up the issue, that is considered approval of the withdrawal. A majority of the member towns must approve, or not disapprove, the exit. If that occurs, Belmont is no longer a member three years after the vote, or July 1, 2020.

A Boston Globe report says the Belmont selectmen have called the Oct. 19 Special Town Meeting to vote on the proposal to withdraw from the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District in Lexington.

The article, sponsored by selectmen, must win by a two-thirds vote. It is the only item that will be taken up at the meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School.

On Sept. 20, Belmont voted overwhelmingly to reject funding for a new $144.9 million Minuteman High School in Lincoln after doing so last May, forcing the special election. Contrary to Belmont's stance, a majority of district voters supported the new school, 70 to 30 percent. If Belmont remains in the district, it would have to help pay for the new building.

Voting earlier to withdraw from the district as of next July 1 are Boxborough, Carlisle, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston. If Belmont leaves, the remaining towns would be Acton, Arlington, Bolton, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Needham, Lexington and Stow.

This news summary was published Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, and updated Oct. 4, to add link.

Electrical union launches partnership with Minuteman

Minuteman High School logo

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 has launched a partnership with Minuteman High School aimed at giving students a head start on high-paying careers in the electrical field.

Officials from IBEW Local 103 visited the school in late September to announce the initiative to about 30 students in the school's electrical and telecommunications programs.

"This is the real deal," said Richard Antonellis Jr. in a news release. He is the business agent for Local 103 who will oversee the Pre-Apprentice Partnership with Minuteman. "This partnership will give two Minuteman students, one male and one female, the opportunity to join our five-year training program."

Antonellis said getting into the IBEW's training program is "highly competitive." Each year, he said the union has only 100 to 150 training slots and around 1,400 applications for the training.

Antonellis and Business Manager John Dumas said the two Minuteman students would be selected by Minuteman teachers based on the students' overall attitude, attendance and grades. "Attitude is 90 percent of it," said Antonellis. Nominees also need to pass an aptitude test.

On graduation from Minuteman, the two students selected for the training would go into a five-year, union-paid apprenticeship program. Students work for an electrical contractor for four days per week and attend school one day per week. Students aren't paid for class time and need to pay for their books for the first year.

"If you go to school, every day, we even pay for your books" after the first year, based on attendance, said Dumas, who told the students he tried to get into the union for five years before eventually succeeding.

Upon graduation, Minuteman's electrical students can work as apprentice electricians. During their training at Minuteman, they can earn up to 1,500 hours toward the 8,000 hours they will need to become a journeyman electrician. They also can earn 300 of the 600 hours they need for classroom time.

By completing training through IBEW Local 103, they earn the title of journeyman electrician.

Wentworth Institute of Technology has a reciprocal partnership with the IBEW, recognizing the apprenticeship program and offering 33 credit hours toward a degree.

"This is an opportunity unlike any other," Superintendent Edward Bouquillon told the students. "The IBEW is an amazing place to start a career, work and retire.

"I'm grateful for the IBEW's commitment to our young people and keeping the pipeline of good workers flowing."

Training is conducted at the Joint Apprentice Training Center in Dorchester.

"I'm grateful for the IBEW's commitment to our young people and keeping the pipeline of good workers flowing."

IBEW officials told students that, even if they aren't selected for the program, they can still apply through the regular application process, starting with an aptitude test that they must sign up for by Nov. 5.

"I'm grateful for the IBEW's commitment to our young people and keeping the pipeline of good workers flowing."

They said that jobs in Local 103 will be plentiful in coming years, because of a large number of expected retirements from the baby-boomer generation.

According to Antonellis, starting pay is roughly $37 per hour, including health care and other benefits, with about $18.50 per hour in the actual weekly paycheck.

"And everyone gets equal pay, men and women," Dumas told the class in which several of the students were female.

IBEW Local 103 serves about 7,500 members in eastern Massachusetts.

This announcement was published Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.

Minuteman sees improved MCAS scores, regains level 1 accountability rating

Minuteman High School logo

Minuteman High School improved its performance on state MCAS tests this year, with that improvement extending to all disciplines and all student subgroups.

As a result of the continued MCAS improvement, Minuteman regained its Level 1 accountability rating from the state. Each year, the state rates all schools and school districts in Massachusetts from level 1 to level 5, with level 1 the best.

Results of the test were reported this month by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"In most cases, the improvement was consistent with the strides we made last year: said William J. Blake Jr., Minuteman's director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, in a news release. "As a result, we have reestablished our level 1 Accountability Rating.

"Improvement continues to be particularly significant for our students with disabilities," he said. "In ELA and Math, we achieved 10-percent increase for special-education students in the advanced category and a 9-percent increase in biology advanced for students with disabilities."

Minuteman is believed to have the highest percentage of students receiving special-education services of any public school in Massachusetts. About 47 percent of the students at Minuteman are classified as Students with Disabilities. The state average is about 17 percent.

"Our students in the high needs category exceeded the state average in every standard and question type in ELA and science. In math, students in the high needs category exceeded the state average in 15/18 standards," he said.

Blake said scores in English language arts are just one percentage point below the highest in Minuteman school history with a 100-percent pass rate and 96-percent of students rating advanced or proficient. Again this year, students with disabilities exceeded the state average in every standard and question type in ELA. Their open-response performance improved by 5 percent.

On the mathematics test, Minuteman students achieved a 95-percent first-time pass rate, with 79-percent scoring advanced or Proficient, a 6-percent increase from a year ago and the highest percentage of math advanced and proficient in recent history (since 1999). Students with disabilities exceeded the state average in 17 of 18 math strands; their performance on short-answer questions exceeded the state level by 9 percent. Their open-response performance improved by 5 percent, exceeding the state by 12 percent.

In Biology, Minuteman achieved a 99-percent pass rate, a 1-percent increase from 2015. Some 77 percent of those taking the biology test scored advanced or proficient, a 7-percent increase from 2015. Performance in biology increased for all items, question types and topics. Students in the economically disadvantaged category exceeded the state average in all items, question types, and seven of eight biology topics. Students with disabilities improved in all areas and exceeded the state average in all items, question types and topics.

Minuteman students who took the chemistry exam had a 100-percent pass rate, the same as in 2015, with 76 percent scoring advanced or proficient. Students scored higher than the state percentages in 10 of 11 reporting categories. Open-response performance increased by 5 percent. In chemistry, the student subgroups were too small to meet the reporting threshold.

This announcement was published Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016.

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