New teachers Mike Thoresen, Emily Turner, Kristen Jagiello, and Christian Chenail are welcomed by the School Committee.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire Vocational School Committee took a tour of McCann Technical School and saw the many improvements made in the building over the summer.
After the regularly scheduled committee meeting Thursday, Superintendent James Brosnan lead the tour and spotlighted some of the aesthetic and functional improvements.
"There have been a lot of improvements over the summer, and I know you will all be impressed by what you see this evening," Brosnan said.
The first stop on the tour was the school's entryway. Brosnan pointed out the leveled concrete and sidewalks that are now Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
"The first thing you see is the front entranceway so it makes a dramatic and safe opening for school," he said.
He then pointed up to the ceiling spotlighting perhaps the centerpiece of the school projects, the overhauled energy recovery ventilation system running through the building
"This summer every occupied space in the building had an ERV and new ventilation put in," he said. "It was a monster job."
He said eight students were involved in the project over the summer and they worked alongside the contractor.
"They loved it," he said. "They learned a lot."
Brosnan lead the group into the advanced manufacturing technology shop and again pointed up to the new ductwork and improved system. He said the system is much quieter and efficient.
In the actual classroom, Brosnan said the workstations have been reorganized.
"Everything they need and everything they are going to need they have right in a cabinet," he said.
He said in the AMT classroom and lab, which has also been reorganized, students are working with equipment that is, in some cases, higher than the industry standard.
In the computer-assisted drawing classroom, instructor Joshua Meczywor previewed the new smartboard-equipped classroom that allows students to collaborate and save presentation materials directly to their computers. He said they can now simulate design meetings in the room.
Brosnan said they have just tapped into the surface of what the smartboards can do. He said the school has two more boards on the way.
In the shop, Meczywor showed the School Committee the new fleet of standing desks that allow students to move around a bit while they work.
"Our advisory board talked a lot about ergonomics and that is a big movement in our industry so if a student does not want to sit all day they can stand up," he said. "They go pretty high."
Meczywor said when they need to discuss something, all of the desks can drop to the same level with the push of a button.
He said they also have implemented gaming headsets at each workstation and students can interact in a classroom server. He said he encouraged student interaction and this allowed them to do so during the pandemic.
He said the Freshmen exploratory class is the most productive he has had and noted a few students have admitted the school workstations are better than their own gaming rigs.
He said the workstations, which can all be monitored and controlled form his desk, are more advanced than the industry standard.
The next stop was information technology and Brosnan said the yellow walls have been repainted and the entire classroom was reorganized
"It opens up the space and cleans the area," he said. "Students like it and it increases capacity."
Brosnan was especially excited about automative and admitted it had been the dingiest of the shops.
"Students are coming in who want to be in the automotive industry," he said. "Now they are looking at this space and saying this is an environment I can learn in. This was the grungiest place we had. Not because of neglect, just 40 years of nothing."
The shop is freshly painted and Brosnan said was deeply cleaned. He said new workstations are on the way.
"This is one of the bigger projects that had a bang and makes everyone feel good," he said.
In the Tea Room, Brosnan said a back wall that used to be the boys change room was blown out to make more classroom space. He pointed to a newly poured floor in the storage space and new chairs.
Brosnan didn't venture a guess of the total investment. He said ESSER, or federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, funds were used to overhaul the ventilation system. The school was also able to pull from grants and existing funds to complete various projects.
"This school is ready to go and ready to serve people in a nice environment they will appreciate," he said. "Alums, some of the chairs and the places where you sat are gone, sorry. But these will be here for another 50 years."
The actual School Committee meeting lasted all of 15 minutes.
Principal Justin Kratz said the school year started off without a hitch.
"We have only been back a few days, and it feels like we have been back a month already," he said. "... It has been really awesome and the kids are excited to be here."
The School Committee also welcomed a group of four new teachers:
Mike Thoresen Titles: advanced manufacturing Instructor
Emily Turner: acience
Kristen Jagiello: English
Physical education and health: Christian Chenail.
"The organization is the people and the students have quality instruction in the classroom and I cant think of better people to do that," Brosnan said "Congratulations and welcome to the team."
Thoresen and Chenail are alumni.
Brosnan wished longtime employee Maureen Senecal a happy retirement.
"What you have done for this school and for me and everybody else is beyond words," he said.
Senecal, who works in the superintendent's office, has been with McCann for more than 39 years.
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The MCLA volleyball team received 12 kills from Chloie Garber to lead the Trailblazers to a 3-0 win over visiting SUNY Delhi in the Amsler Campus Center Gym.
MCLA moves over .500 to 3-2 while the Broncos drop to 4-3 on the young season.
MCLA (3-2) was challenged in the first two sets but they held off the Broncos. The Trailblazers collected set wins of 25-23 and 25-22 to take a hard fought 2-0 lead. They eventually closed out the visitors with a convincing 25-18 win in the third.
Garber was solid again with her 12 kills on 28 attacks. She added six digs for MCLA. Reagan Scattergood ended with nine kills, 10 digs, and five aces. Kelly Moczulski finished with eight kills and 11 digs. Natasha Stewart continued her solid play with 31 assists and seven digs.
The interactive panels function as both classic blackboards and as interconnected collaborative screens that can allow teachers and students to interact remotely, save lessons and access and edit documents on the fly.
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