Sa'lina Rheaume with other electrical program students at Taconic. She sees her education as being rewarding and leading to a well-paying career.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Sa'lina Rheaume went through the career exploration program at Taconic High School before finding electrical work to be rewarding as well as being the potential for a well-paying career.
"At first I was nervous because I know a lot of females don't go into this field, but I've actually been enjoying it a lot and when I finish a project it makes me very happy," the 10th-grader said. "Especially when it works."
She is very excited to be eligible for the co-op program that will allow her to get experience in the field.
And she thinks Taconic becoming a full vocational school would give students many opportunities to learn different skills.
Staff and students are supportive of the move to a Career Technical Educational program. If implemented, the high school will only accept CTE students.
"I think that this is an exciting opportunity for our community," said Principal Matthew Bishop. "This proposed move allows both high schools to offer unique pathways for our students, with both schools focusing on career and college readiness.
"The proposed transition allows more opportunity for students to attend our highly technical and academic vocational programming. Having served the community in both high schools, I honestly believe that the residents and future high schoolers of Pittsfield don't lose anything in this move, but gain a powerful choice."
This vote has been two years in the making and is fueled by a lack of space for non-CTE students because of the popularity of Taconic's vocational programs.
There are over a dozen pathways students can choose from including advanced manufacturing and health technology along with state-of-the-art facilities that were a part of the $120 million building completed in 2018.
Sophomore Evan Bachand chose the business technology program because he said it will provide meaningful skills that can be used in a variety of careers.
At the time, his class was learning the ins and outs of Excel.
"I chose the business CTE because I figured even if I don't go down a career path that is business related, I still learn skills I can use for my whole life," he said.
Taconic also has its own horticulture building complete with a large greenhouse.
"I think it's really great that we're getting so much more kids into shops," senior horticulture student Christine Hayes said while trimming greenery.
She has always wanted to own a florist shop and was convinced to join the program after seeing the greenhouse.
Hayes hopes to attend the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst next year.
Senior early education student Amelia Moro also came to Taconic for the program, traveling from out of town each day to attend.
"I love it, I like the real-life experiences and the skills that we learn as well," she said while working with children in the school's day-care center.
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