WESTWOOD — Juniors and seniors from Blue Hills Regional Technical School’s Construction Program are receiving hands-on, technical experience while they work on a craftsman-style addition at a home in Westwood.
Since September, 14 juniors and 10 seniors have been spending their shop weeks working on an addition at the Westwood home of Michael Petta and Cheryl Bornstein. They started the project to maximize present space for their six children, nearly all young adults, with an equal focus on accommodating their senior lives in the years ahead.
After collecting references and researching contractors, Petta and Bornstein learned of Blue Hills’s construction program home project application. In February 2022, they spoke with Blue Hills Construction Technology Instructor David Blakeley before their home’s addition plans were submitted to Superintendent Jill Rosetti and Vocational Director Michelle Sylvia for review. The project was then approved by the School Committee and broke ground in August.
“We were more than happy to begin this project alongside the students and faculty from Blue Hills as we were excited to be able to provide an opportunity that would support these students’ education through giving them hands-on construction experience,” Petta said. “Cheryl and I both come from blue-collar families that relied on the trades as a way of life, so we each feel strongly that communities need tradesmen and women to provide essential skills and services. Once we realized that our home could be the cultivating ground for high school kids to develop such vital skills, it made the partnership a no-brainer.”
At the home, students will complete the framing of a 1,800-square-foot addition and a 700-square-foot covered porch under the guidance of Blue Hills instructors, Blakeley and Ron Eby, who have their construction supervisor’s license and Chapter 74 carpentry license. To keep with the theme of a craftsman-style home, the addition will have several low-pitched roofs, extended eaves, covered porches and heavy tapered columns, among other designs.
For Blue Hills students, this project provides them with an environment that mimics what a job site will look like in their professional futures.
“I think that the job site is important because although we’re learning things in the shop setting, we learn more on the job, especially with the teachers who have worked in the field. They lead us, but we are the ones who are building the project,” said Aiden McDermott, a senior from Dedham.
The project includes, but is not limited to, the following components of the Construction Technology Curriculum: Job Site and Tool Safety, Floor Framing, Wall Framing, Roof Framing, Roofing, Exterior Trim, Siding, Door and Window Installation and Employability. While at the home, students will incorporate these components into the work they are completing.
“Projects like these provide our students with real work experiences in which they can grasp what it really takes to have a career in this profession,” Director Sylvia. “Unlike a classroom setting where everything is more controlled, working on a live job allows the students to encounter unpredictable situations and come up with creative, safe solutions.”
Added Blue Hills senior Olivia Rynne, of Braintree, “When we see the work progressing, as we are learning, it makes us proud at what we are creating. I’m a visual learner – it’s very helpful for me to have real hands-on experience because I can see that what I do is leading to excellent results.”
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the school year.
Home Project Applications
Blue Hills is currently accepting project applications to be considered for the next school year. The deadline for priority consideration is Jan. 15.
Projects are selected based on the learning experiences they provide for students. Projects for district towns will be given first consideration. Second consideration will be
given to projects for private homes within the nine-town district. The homes must be
owned and occupied by the resident applicant. To download a copy of the application, click here.