Editorial: Starrett, an internship experience worthy of praise

Friday, June 08, 2018

One yard stick for measuring success in education is how enthusiastic or animated the students are after an experience. Internships are particularly telling, if they give students exposure to the real life workplace and a chance to get their hands dirty doing real work while supervised. Those interns who are glorified coffee-fetchers are a waste of time by contrast.

So it was no surprise to hear Athol High School senior Sean Fisher singing the praises of his internship with L.S. Starrett Co. this past semester.

“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 of his five-day-per-week paid internship.

The internship, which involves hands-on experience at a variety of jobs at the world-class toolmaker, is an extension of the Starrett Science Lab created at the Athol High School last year.

The Starrett Lab is a class taught by Carl Seppala that trains and certifies seniors in the use of precision tools — a hallmark of Starrett worldwide.

“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,” Assistant Principal David King told the Daily News.

The opportunity is unlike any the high school offers.

Five students from the school went to Starrett this spring for a full-time internship instead of sitting in classrooms for the semester. 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. Helping those students with an interest and an aptitude to work in today’s high-tech precision tool-making is a great deal that Starrett and the school should be proud of.

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 in “Tool Town.”

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

For the Starrett interns, the experience is a litmus test of their interest and ability. Do they like it, can they do it? And if successful, they come away with credentials and skills to get them started in the machining industry.

What’s in it for Starrett? Well, over time they develop some local talent they otherwise might not have. And, we suspect, the managers and intern mentors at Starrett get true enjoyment from turning on young recruits to the satisfaction of making things with their hands.

In the future, the school hopes all students will be able to participate in more work-based learning programs like Starrett’s.

That would be a great deal for the town’s young people — and for its businesses.

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