UPTON — To keep pace with technological advancements, the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District enhances its vocational, academic, and community offerings with grants that strengthen its ability to serve its students and the greater community.
With a $225,000 Fiscal Year 2022 Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant for equipment, the highly popular Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration shop has undergone an impressive renovation.
The grant allowed the school to acquire and install industry-grade equipment like air purification systems, boilers, furnaces, building automation workstations, and line sets. The numerous upgrades increased the vocational-technical training for the day students and adult learners in the new HVAC&R Moonlight Program, as well as help increase the number of skilled workers entering the trades.
The shop renovation occurred over the summer break with the help of students, staff, retirees, and the facilities department, which manages numerous preventative maintenance projects during that time frame. It was an impressive undertaking:
• All furniture and equipment were removed from the shop.
• Ceiling, walls, and trim were cleaned and painted.
• Interior and exterior shop doors were replaced.
• Installation included a new epoxy floor, LED lighting, moveable wood workstations, a sink, student lockers, a heating/AC unit, and standard safety signage.
The upgrades, such as cleaning, painting, and installing new industry-grade equipment and workstations, were completed with inhouse resources. The vocational instructors helped with plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and painting projects. Additionally, HVAC&R Instructor Matthew LaJoie had students Travis Cook and Robert Poirier working in the shop over the summer, as did Painting and Design Instructor Tim Buono, who worked with students Maddison Moore and Emma Fiore.
The district will make nearly $500,000 of enhancements, parlaying the grant from the state with a $200,000 match from its certified excess and deficiency fund with the added value of student project designers and laborers to renovate without financially impacting local tax dollars or municipal assessment requests. For more information on Valley Tech’s Moonlight Programs, visit www.valleytech.k12.ma.us/ moonlightprograms.