Above, McCann Tech juniors Damon Couture, Levi Lawson, Matthew Meranti, Ryan Daunais and Jon Pierce worked on the west side of the Clarksburg police garage.
Left, senior Austin Segala said the hands-on experience 'feels right'and is better than you can get in the classroom. Other seniors participating that day wereWill Dupras, Forrest Richards, Barak Zungy, Bradley Janovsky and Dalton Nicholas.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — McCann Technical School students have ensured that the town's police cruiser will stay dry for years to come.
The students worked for several weeks on removing the old roofing and laying down new shingles and weather barrier. The roof was deteriorating and covered with moss — pointing to the potential for more serious damage.
For junior and seniors from the Carpentry/Cabinetry Program, under the instruction of teacher Francis Kruzel, this was a chance for on-the-job learning in their chosen fields.
Kruzel stressed the work was a learning experience, not just in hammering down shingles, but in all the elements of the job including safety.
"Sometimes its the first time doing it for the kids ... It's the first time on a roof. They've never been on a roof before," he said. "And before we get on the roof, we have to do a whole bunch of training about the safety harnesses, about the guard rails ... that's all time."
Instruction is done at the school and, if possible, on the job according to the students' class schedules. The Clarksburg project took more time than if professionals had done it because of the learning aspect and the different students involved. Safety training for one group has to be repeated for the next group.
"People think we come out here like a ball of fire and get a whole bunch of work done," said Kruzel. "But if we set the staging up wrong we take it down and do it over."
Students learned how to properly wear and rig a safety harness, how to set up scaffolding, build guard rails along the roof edge along with the actual stripping, sealing and shingling.
"I could do that in the classroom and they wouldn't understand it," said Kruzel. "Now they understand it. This all applies to their OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] training."
Students are required meet a training and time guidelines for OSHA certification.
Senior Austin Segala said his group had been working on the roof about two days taking off shingles and getting ready to put new ones on. He liked the experience.
"On-hand learning is always the best. I never see learning like this in the classroom. It never feels right," said Segala.
Town meeting approved spending to fix the garage, which has included trimming back the tree limbs above it and hauling away the debris from the project. A new header has yet to be installed. The garage is one of a number of projects the students have done for the town: They also worked at the Senior Center and will build a gaga ball pit for the school.
Students work strictly in communities that belong to the Northern Berkshire Vocational School District, said Kruzel.
"I've got stack of pictures of projects we've done all over in the past 15 years. I'm usually out all the time," he said.
Next up is a storage shed at Cheshire Elementary School and possibly some work at the Polish Picnic Grounds' pavilion in Adams. For towns and students, it's a win-win situation.
"They understand it's a learning thing, it's not how much we do in a day, it's how much we learn in a day," said Kruzel.
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