By JANET STOICA
Most of us have seen the shift in high school education. Freshman high school students are opting to choose a trade that will put them on the path to a well-paid and satisfying job right after high school graduation. Trying to find a good plumber, mason, electrician, carpenter…..someone who is educated enough to do a great job, is like looking for a needle in that proverbial haystack. The administration at Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School has seen this shift coming for quite some time however. Chisholm family donation to Bay Path, $5000 from local business owners Seth and Mary Chisholm, owners and operators of Skilled Trades Partners in Fiskdale. Seth Chisholm is a graduate of Bay Path, Class of 1993.
Advanced Manufacturing at Bay Path. Instructor, Stephan Zeveska. Students, left to right, Lucas Daoust of Charlton, Cayden Young of Webster, Midrose Freeman of Dudley, Emerson Pitz of North Oxford, and Ryan Dawson of Charlton.
None too soon for those of us who are sick and tired of phoning tradespeople who say they’ll be here a certain day and time and then never show up or who are too “busy” to take on a job that’s not worth $2,000 or more. What goes around comes around, as they say, and those who ignore us will begin feeling the pinch in their wallets when the economy cycles through its usual ups and downs and they no longer have those $2,000 jobs available. The next class of trade graduates will take up the slack and we’ll be better off for it.
Bay Path High School is our local and premier craft and trade institution of higher learning in the 10-town area. The school has undergone major building and trade shop renovations and is proud to say that their trade shops and teachers are running at full capacity. And, yes, they do have a sizeable student waiting list which is a credit to the shop teachers and academic educators. The school has existed since the 1970’s and has earned a sterling reputation for its exceptionally skilled and avid graduates.
The tide has turned, ladies and gentlemen, and it has shown that having a bona fide and reputable trade is definitely the way to go in the 21st Century. These able-bodied young women and men who have done their jobs and done them extremely well are graduating from Bay Path Regional and entering apprentice trade programs with salaries that will make your eyes pop. It is refreshing to learn and know that this has happened to our smart and very well-educated Bay Path graduates in both the trades and academia.
Many graduates do go on to colleges and universities but with the cost of a four-year tuition it has become prohibitive for many of our young people to even consider affording a baccalaureate degree. Tuitions that will put them in debt for decades or, if you have a loving parent or other relative who has the tuition funds available and/or is willing to re-mortgage their own home, that loving parent or relative will be in debt until death.
At Bay Path and hundreds of other excellent vocational high schools around the country, they are handing you a ticket to an engaging job which enables you to earn your way into the middle and higher income brackets. There is no doubt about it.
“We run a tight budget here,” said Cliff Cloutier, principal of Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School. “We have 10 area towns sending us their students. We currently have a wait list of over 200 students who want to enter our school. Our two graduation diplomas consist of a vocational and academic certificate. In our machine shop we have two instructors for 40 students and we could easily place 10 more students into this shop. We have offered evening classes for potential students as well. Our trade students have hands-on instruction as well as related theory which gives them the base/background for their shop. The opportunities that students have here is amazing. We tell them that the more you put into your classes, the better you’ll make out when you’re ready to start your career.”
According to James Tripp Pockevicius, Director of Career and Technical Education, “We’re seeing the trend for the trades increase everywhere. More and more students want to attend. We use cooperative education as much as we can where the students will enjoy a structured style of classroom-based education and practical work experience. Local employers will then offer them jobs upon successful graduation. The cost of attending college may be a huge factor. We do track our graduates with a one-year follow-up survey. Approximately 47% of our 2021 graduates went straight into the workforce and 46-47% went on to post-secondary educational institutions such as the health tech field, dental, and four-year colleges along with 3% entering the Armed Forces.”
“We’ve had former students donate generously to our shops,” said Mr. Cloutier, “and they are grateful for the education they have received here. Their knowledge base seems to be well above average and the businesses that have hired them say our students have great backgrounds in their trade areas.” Mr. Tripp Pockevicius mentioned that a former carpentry student began his own business, became very successful, and made a $5,000 donation to the Bay Path carpentry shop. Now that’s the biggest kind of Thank You a school could ever hope to receive.
Bay Path has an Advisory Committee that meets twice annually with local owners and workers of the various trades with the goal of keeping up with current product and trade techniques. The members will recommend new teaching methods, curriculum, and equipment.
For more information on the 23 career areas offered by Bay Path Vocational (from Automotive to Culinary Arts to IT and Veterinary classes), please visit their website: www.baypath.net
or phone the school at (508) 248-5971.