High School, Starrett partnership bringing back ‘Tool Town’ roots

  • Seniors from Athol Regional High School intern full-time at Starrett. CONTRIBUTED FROM STARRETT

  • Seniors from Athol Regional High School intern full-time at Starrett. CONTRIBUTED FROM STARRETT

  • Sean Fisher, a senior at Athol High School, was an intern at Starrett.  CONTRIBUTED FROM STARRETT

Staff Writer
Published: 5/29/2018 11:15:08 PM
Modified: 5/30/2018 5:47:36 PM

ATHOL — A senior at Athol Regional High School, Sean Fisher wasn’t sitting in classrooms for his final semester in school. Instead, five days a week since the end of January, he traveled to the L.S. Starrett Company for a paid internship.

As someone who enjoys hands-on learning experiences, Fisher said the Starrett internship program allowed him to do just that.

“I would highly recommend it to anybody, whether they are going to college, going to the military or anything, it was a valuable lesson with good skills to learn,” he said.

Launched in 2017, the Starrett science lab at the Athol High School allows students to experience learning outside the classroom. The class, taught by teacher Carl Seppala, trains and certifies seniors in the use of precision tools. As a partner with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) Starrett implements curriculum focused on precision measurement in schools across the country.

Assistant Principal David King said the high school reached out to local businesses a few years ago to bring more college and career planning initiatives to Athol. Then their partnership with the L.S. Starrett company formed.

“We came together to devise a plan we felt was going to give our seniors here some career skills that would be very useful to them moving on after high school, and that is kind of what the focus is, to put them out into the career field and give them that exposure,” he said.

The opportunity is unlike any the high school offers.

“When we put the coursework into the Athol curriculum, it was really to give kids something different they were not used to — to give them an opportunity to explore,” said Michael Butler, product manager for Starrett.

Five students from the school went to Starrett this spring for a full-time internship instead of sitting in classrooms for the semester. Butler said three of the five interns will continue working with Starrett through the end of the summer and, depending on their progression, may have the opportunity to stay on as employees for the company.

“We learn what we want through the experiences and not a textbook,” he said.

Seppala said the program’s objective was to put tools in students’ hands. An auto mechanic before becoming a teacher, he said working with one’s hands is becoming a lost skill.

“If they don’t ever have the opportunity to work with their hands, they don’t actually learn that they are good at it,” he said. “It is important to start bringing more of this back as part of the culture — I mean, this is ‘Tool Town.’”

Prior to participating in the internship, students are required to complete the Precision Measurement Instrument course offered by the high school in the fall. In order to take the class, students must have completed their requirements to graduate Athol High School, along with taking extended math and English classes, said Mary Jane Rickson, the curriculum coordinator of grades 6 through 12.

Instead of Athol High School’s previous internship program, said King, where students would shadow a person in a field they are interested in for one period a day, the Starrett internship program truly immerses the students in the company.

“The (interns) get to live the life of what it is to work, they have to meet the expectations of all the other workers at the Starrett company and they learn skills that will hopefully help them be successful in another job,” said King.

Unlike the structure of vocational schools where students focus on a particular area of work, Rickson said the Starrett interns have the opportunity to explore multiple interests, from operations to assembly.

“They get multiple experiences so they can rotate through the business to see where their interest lies,” she said.

Butler said the most important part of the program is creating authentic learning experiences for students and interns.

“What we are doing here has nothing to do with us and Starretts’ profitability in the short term, it really has to do with catering opportunities for individuals so they can find what they are interested in ... and as a byproduct we may receive a certain percentage of local talent that we otherwise might not,” he said.

In the future, Rickson said, she hopes all students will be able to participate in more work-based learning programs like Starrett’s. King said the school plans to refer to the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board to make internship opportunities available for career fields locally on the rise.

“We’d like to have this happen with many companies. We’ve had other conversations with other businesses as well,” said Rickson. “We anticipate hopefully contributing to the growth of the program.”

E-Edition & Local Ads


athol forecast

Most Popular

Village School finishes year of in-person instruction, graduates move on

Athol: Body recovered from Millers River

Social Media

Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261
FAX (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.