EAST BRIDGEWATER — For Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School senior and carpentry student Cory Smith, working on the new garage building project at the East Bridgewater Police Department is about more than just getting out of shop class. It’s about gaining valuable, real-world experience that Smith can take with him into the work force once he graduates.
“I can’t wait to drive down the street in five years and see it still standing and say ‘Wow, I was part of that. I did that,’ ” said Smith, age 18, of Stoughton. “I want to show my mom one day or my kids one day and say ‘See that building? It was nothing once and now there it is and I helped build it.’ “
The project, which was approved at 2018 Town Meeting, is truly a community effort. Members of the East Bridgewater DPW began the project by prepping the site for the foundation to be poured. A private contractor poured the concrete foundation and floor, paving the way for the Southeastern Regional students to begin their work. Once complete, the DPW will grade and pave the small parking lot around the building and ensure the drainage is working properly.
“This project has been great because of the partnership between the police department, DPW and the school, and I would like to commend Deputy Chief Paul O’Brien for helping to spearhead this effort from the beginning,” Chief Allen said. “It’s been great seeing the kids out there working everyday and the progress that’s been made. They’re doing a great job.”
The project broke ground in September and is expected to be completed by the end of the school year in June. Once complete, the building will house vehicles and equipment for the police department, in addition to a van for East Bridgewater Community Access Media.
About 30 senior and junior students are alternating weeks working on the project. The students will be doing the bulk of the construction work, which will help the town save money on the project and will give the students experience working on a real construction site.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 29, the senior students were finishing up the framing for the roof in order to lay plywood down.
“It really helps us see what the real world is like and how a job site is run,” Smith said. “I want to go into carpentry or general contracting. This is helping me a lot because I get a little bit of everything, framing, roofing, siding and it’s all-around just amazing.”
For senior Josiah Brown, age 19, of Brockton, this project is helping him learn the value of a hard day’s work.
“It’s a whole different experience than being in shop because in shop you have your friends around and you fool around a little bit. But out here, there’s not any room to fool around at all. You have to get what you need to do done in a certain amount of time, because if you don’t then it costs more money and that’s a bad thing because we’re trying to gain profit instead of losing it,” Brown said. “It’s refreshing to come out here because we gain experience and I’m prepared to know what I have to do outside of high school. I won’t be wondering what I need to do on a real job site.”
Carpentry instructor Marc Raimondo is on the job site every day with the students making sure they are getting the job done and following safety protocols.
“It ties a lot more to real jobs and the reality of everything because it’s run like a real job site,” Raimondo said. “We come out, we work from start to stop and that’s it. We don’t do anything that you wouldn’t be doing on a normal job site. It’s all pretty much the same. All of the students have stepped up and when I tell them to do something, they do it and they do it to the best of their ability and then we keep going. It’s going really well.”
Brian Kiely is the Facilities Manager for the DPW and worked at Southeastern Regional for 11 years. The building permit for the project is under his name and he also visits the work site every day.
“I’m well aware of what they’re capable of doing and I’m thoroughly impressed with what they’ve done thus far. They’ve worked safe. They’ve worked hard. Rain or shine they’re here and they seem to be enjoying it,” Kiely said. “You can only learn so much sitting in a shop at school. Out here on the job site, it’s the real world. There is Mother Nature. You’re going to smack your thumb. The ladder is wet but you still have to get up it. It’s good experience.”
East Bridgewater is one of the nine communities that Southeastern Regional serves. Some of the students working on the project are from East Bridgewater.
“We’re really proud of our students and the work they’ve been doing,” said Principal Leslie Weckesser. “It’s important work and it’s a way to teach today’s youth that when you work together anything can be accomplished.”