CANTON — Superintendent Jill Rossetti is pleased to announce that Construction Technology students at Blue Hills Regional Technical School have continued their work on a major construction project in Canton despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Construction Technology juniors and seniors have been working on a 2,000-square-foot addition on a home in Canton since the 2018-19 school year. Students that span three separate classes have used their carpentry skills to construct a garage, add additions to both floors of the house, install vinyl siding, construct a deck and portico, install interior doors and trim and install hardwood and tile flooring.
Work was halted last March due to COVID-19, and resumed this winter with safeguards put in place. Students have been putting finishing touches on the exterior of the property with construction expected to be finished by the end of next month.
Due to ongoing restrictions, students are not allowed to enter the interior of the home.
“The students have been committed to seeing this project through with a tremendous attention to detail despite all the roadblocks that COVID has brought up,” Blue Hills carpentry instructor David Blakeley said. “If someone looks at the work they’ve done, they would never expect a group of high school kids did this construction. They all pride themselves on doing the job in as professional a manner as possible.”
Blakeley and fellow instructors Ron Eby and Burke Doherty have been onsite throughout the project supervising the students and checking their work, but students are often tasked with working independently to not only do the physical work that needs to be done, but also assess and problem-solve any issues that may arise during construction.
Blue Hills has a long history of completing construction projects in the community. The garage of the house located directly behind the current project’s property was completed by BHRTS students more than 25 years ago.
“We do a wide variety of projects, and have been working on a garage at the Dedham Housing Authority alongside this one,” Vocational Director Michelle Sylvia said. “This house addition is certainly on the larger side, but getting real-world experience for our students is something we have always put a major emphasis on, across all grade levels.”
As part of their work, juniors and seniors alternate weeks on the job site, breaking off into small groups to work on various parts of the home. That level of teamwork not only helps students achieve their goals, but also makes the experience all the more fulfilling.
“This project has allowed us to do a lot of independent work, but we also work in groups and can rely on our classmates when needed,” Senior Meghan Corrigan said. “As a non-traditional carpentry student, I have made so many great connections on this project and know we will stay friends long after high school. We all work together as a team and I think that shows in the work we’ve produced. Looking back at the beginning of this project and seeing all that we’ve been able to accomplish is really rewarding.”
For fellow senior Jonathan McGettrick, having the opportunity to get out of the classroom and work on a real job site has helped him grow his skills as he prepares to leave school.
“Working in the shop is great, but you aren’t able to experience working on a ladder, or working in different weather conditions or see a full project like this come together,” he said. “Working in a real-world setting is awesome, and it’s also rewarding to be able to construct something that people will be able to enjoy and live in for so many years.”
Homeowners Mark and Rosemary Matanes needed to enter a lottery to be considered for the project. They had an architect draft up a proposal, which was then evaluated by Blue Hills to determine if the scope of work was in line with what their students are learning. This particular project was a perfect fit, and the couple couldn’t be happier with the result.
“As retired teachers, we know what it means for students to get real-world experience so we were thrilled that we were chosen for this project,” Mark Matanes said. “The kids have exceeded our expectations. It has been a joy to get to know them and the work they have produced has been fantastic. It is a real testament to the entire school, both the teachers and the students, that these kids could accomplish something like this.”