Region 14 Applied Technology Center receives $37,000 grant

  • Conant High School Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/14/2022 12:01:10 PM
Modified: 1/14/2022 12:00:17 PM

According to Region 14 Applied Technology Center Director Jennifer Kiley, a $37,000 grant from the state Department of Education to support the center’s construction trades program is a vital investment.

The grant will enable the program to purchase Oculus virtual reality equipment, which Kiley said would allow students to explore and practice various trades, such as construction, electrical trades, masonry and plumbing, virtually.

“It doesn’t take the place of doing in-person on-the-job training, but it does get them familiar with some of the theories,” she said.

In addition, Kiley said the technology is already in use by industry professionals, meaning that the students will be be able to use current methods and learn valuable skills. 

“The construction trades are really important to the economic area,” she said. “We have a lot of construction-related industry around, and the fact that we have this amount of money dedicated to our students looking into that industry, I think it demonstrates a commitment, an investment to them.”

The ATC serves the Jaffrey-Rindge, ConVal and Mascenic districts. According to Kiley, about 40 students are enrolled in the construction trades program, which is housed at Conant High School. The ATC’s other offerings include an automotive program housed at Mascenic High School and serving 40 students, and a number of other programs serving 275 students at ConVal.

The grant funds will also go toward student training through an Occupational Safety and Health Administration course, as well as funding National Center for Construction Education and Research textbooks. 

According to Kiley, if the virtual-reality program is successful, other trade schools will likely be able to try it.

Conant High School Principal David Dustin celebrated the grant.

“These areas represent high-skill, high-demand career opportunities that do not have enough development in K-12 schools,” said Dustin. “We are pleased to expand this offering and better serve our learners and our community.”

The other districts involved in sharing the ATC programs were also pleased with the grant as an expansion of opportunities for students.

“We’re grateful that it will help strengthen our program,” ConVal Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said.

“Given the need for workers in the area of construction trades, we’re thrilled to be a part of this project,” said Mascenic Superintendent Chris Martin. “It’s just more opportunity for our kids.”

According to Kiley, the ATC is a vital resource for the region. It’s free to any student in grades 10 to 12, including homeschooled students, and offers dual enrollment with the community college program as well as options to receive college credits, industry certifications and on-the-job training.

“I think part of what the pandemic showed us was that we need the trades,” Kiley said. “You can’t ship that somewhere else, so it’s really important that we train our students well. It’s a really important way to demonstrate to kids that whatever career pathway they want to pursue, there are supports in place. We really want them to be well-situated to be successful in the next phase of their life.”


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