FITCHBURG — Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (Monty Tech) emphasizes community service as part of a holistic preparation of students for both college and career pathways.
A hallmark of the high school’s vocational training programs is a commitment to giving back to area communities. Students from various trades work on projects such as repairing town and city properties, servicing municipal vehicles and building dugouts for local athletic programs.
Many Monty Tech shops also provide free or discounted services for local residents. Whether it is providing subsidized veterinary care, meals for seniors or affordable auto service, the school views helping north central Massachusetts residents as a core commitment. Students learn to see their growing expertise not just as a career pathway but as a tool for strengthening their communities.
One of Monty Tech’s best-known partnerships is home construction with Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts. Through this program, student’s in the school’s electrical, house carpentry, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) programs help to build homes for families in need.
“Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts is proud to partner with the instructors and students at Monty Tech for our home projects,” said Carolyn Read, executive director of Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts in a press release on Feb. 3. “Together, we have completed three homes in the last two years and we are working on a fourth now. The partnership means that families can come home much more quickly and we can build strength, stability and self-reliance for more low-income families in our local communities.”
“Being involved with Habitat for Humanity has been a great way for me to gain experience and learn new trade skills,” said Thomas Agnelli, a Monty Tech senior and house carpentry student from Gardner.
When walking through the halls of Monty Tech, visitors can often find posters promoting various donation drives. This school year, efforts have included drives for food, clothing, blankets, sports equipment and Toys for Tots. Some drives were led by particular student organizations such as the Monty Tech’s Leo Club, while others are run by particular vocational programs.
Students work together with local organizations to ensure that donations reach their intended recipients. A recent clothing drive benefited a Fitchburg agency, Our Father’s House, and a blanket drive was coordinated to benefit Afghan families resettling locally.
With more than a quarter of Monty Tech students categorized as economically disadvantaged, the school also recognizes needs within its own community. Staff from the counseling department, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, and dining services took the lead on this year’s holiday dinner basket programs. For Thanksgiving, 32 Monty Tech families received special meal deliveries.
Around the winter holidays, 46 Monty Tech families received special meal deliveries, along with gifts and supplemental groceries for the extended school break. Both of these meal programs were aided by students in the school’s business technology program, as well as staff and faculty from across the school.
“We are so lucky to work with such a supportive group of educators that recognize that times are tough right now and want to be involved in something that makes life a little brighter for our students,” said Kathleen Hanson and Alicia Quinn, guidance office staffers who helped to lead the meal drive efforts.
Students feel equally fortunate to be involved in service work. Elaina Sarsfield, a Monty Tech junior and health occupations student from Fitchburg, is vice president of the school’s Leo Club.
When asked about her involvement, she said, “The Leo Club has provided me many opportunities to do meaningful community service. The club is always open to new and creative ways to help the community. In the last couple of months, we have provided those in need with meals as well as coats and blankets. We’ve also worked with the school guidance counselors to provide struggling students with stress relief kits. These service projects have continuous impacts on not only the school but also the surrounding communities, and to be a part of this is something that I am very grateful for.”