Students are learning, having fun this summer at Monty Tech

  • Ella Pirri of Phillipston, left, and Abigail Thatcher of Ashby work on their birdhouses in house carpentry class at Monty Tech. The custom designs feature painted trims, cedar shingles and attached suet feeders. Submitted photo

Published: 8/5/2019 9:42:15 PM

 FITCHBURG — It may be summer, but there is still a lot of learning and fun going on at the Montachusett Regional Technical School. In addition to the regular summer school program, where students make up credits in subjects such as math, science and history, a summer academy and summer camp are also held. 

For students entering the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, Monty Tech hosts two weeklong camps, where attendees spend four days exploring one of 10 careers offered. Students select which field they want to explore. On the fifth day, campers attend a fun and exciting out-of-town field trip.

Programs offered this year include: cosmetology, culinary arts, cyberSTEM, graphic arts, house carpentry, automotive and machine technology.

Field trips are held at the end of each camp week. The first week, the group traveled to Foxboro to tour the Hall of Fame at Patriots Place and bowl at Splitsville. The following week they spent the day driving bumper cars, bowling, and playing laser tag at Apex Entertainment Center in Marlboro.

Tuition includes daily snack, lunch, program materials and all field-trip expenses. Every student gets a custom-designed T-shirt, with space on the back for their new friends to sign. Campers were able to bring home a project they made.

Scholarships are available if financial assistance is needed. 

In House Carpentry one week, students were busy and focused on building custom birdhouses.  The designs featured cedar shingles, painted trim and attached suet feeders.

Campers were designing and building race cars in the machine technology shop. Teacher Kevin Killay said he chose that particular project for the students to work on because it was summer, and he wanted to make sure the students had fun while they learned new skills. “In addition to technical skills, they are also learning to follow directions, work in teams and problem solve,” he said.

In the culinary arts kitchen that day, campers, wearing black aprons and tall white chef hats, were excited to show off what they were making. The menu included Dorito-encrusted chicken strips, macaroni and cheese and lemon-cake cookies. According to chef-teacher Sean Lowe, students make enough of each dish to take home and feed four to five family members.

This is the first year Christine Leamy, Monty Tech admissions director, has overseen the camps. “It has been such a pleasure working with these enthusiastic middle schoolers to help them experience a fun-filled career exploration. It also gives them a chance to become more comfortable with Monty Tech, and to help them decide if it is where they would like to apply to attend for high school,” she said. 

Summer Academy Director John Bozicas explained the concept behind this unique learning approach.  “The Monty Tech Summer Academy is an enrichment program for eligible students to strengthen their skills in ELA (English language arts) and math through an activity-based summer program. 

Students are invited to attend the program based on their placement test scores, and if they are identified as benefiting from the review and re-teaching of concepts to improve test scores,” he said. 

However, he explained, more importantly, the program better prepares them for the work they will be presented with in the next grade level.

Students attend two-week sessions where they spend a portion of their day working on ELA and math activities. The program has a media component, where students learn to make mini-music videos. Students work in teams and collaborate to build skills and develop strategies in each area.

The program culminates with an award banquet, where the videos the students produced are shown for family and friends. 

“Monty Tech has seen incredible value in this program in the areas of test-score improvement, social connectedness, as well as general student preparedness for future classes,” said Bozicas.

It’s also been a very busy summer for cadets and instructors in Monty Tech’s Marine Corps JROTC program. Since late June, they have been traveling to Virginia and Pennsylvania to attend leadership and CyberStem courses and camps.  

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