Diman students show Gov. Patrick what teamwork can build
By Greg Sullivan Herald News Sports Reporter
FALL RIVER — Seeing the work done by Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School to build a home for People Inc., Gov Deval Patrick started thinking on a bigger scale.
"I'm trying to think of how to use you in some of our infrastructure projects," Patrick told the four students who met with him Wednesday.
Governor Patrick talks with student Katherine Raposa about the medical tech program at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Julio Rocha and Vanessa Valcorba answered some of Gov. Deval Patrick's questions about the program at Diman.
Edward Hill, Diman School Committee member and staff Coordination for People Inc., explains the program to Gov. Deval Patrick.
Patrick's discussion with those four students was part of an afternoon tour of the regional school that led him to see some of the connections between Diman and People Inc. and how the students are applying what they've learned in school in the real world.
Facing four large poster boards displaying enlarged photos of the Ling Street home built by the students, Patrick heard about the efforts of the 100 to 120 students who had a hand in building the home, from putting up walls to making the structure handicapped accessible.
Through the partnership and donations of supplies, People Inc. Executive Director Robert Canuel told Patrick the project cost about $100,000 to $150,000 less than a similar home. So students were provided a valuable hands-on experience and People Inc. was provided an affordable housing option.
"Working with a group like People Inc. is great for us because they have a clear direction from the beginning and fewer last minute changes," Diman Superintendent-Director Marta Montleon said. "This is a great experience because it's not just giving the students hands on building experience, but building something for a population that needs it."
Patrick appeared to come away impressed.
"I shouldn't call you kids. You've built a house," Patrick said during his discussion with the students.
Patrick's visit, which included Education Secretary Paul Reville, also brought him to the Human Services Academy at Diman, which partners the school and People Inc. to help students get their certified nursing assistant certificate. There Patrick heard about students planning to continue their education at schools like University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Northeastern.
The visit came as Patrick touted the state's investment in SouthCoast schools, saying that nearly $400 million in state and federal funding has been allocated during the past year. Those allocations include $303 million directed to schools through Chapter 70 funding, with an additional $36 million to communities in state and federal grant programs. A total of $60 million in stimulus funds has also been provided to SouthCoast communities.
He said funding education is important because students don't have the choice to wait out the recession.
"Students don't get to sit out the seventh or eighth grade until the recession is over. This is their chance," Patrick said.