HANOVER — The South Shore Vocational High School Committee’s student of the month award usually celebrates purely scholastic or athletic achievement and student leadership, but an act of heroism also distinguished the selection for February.
James Dwyer of Hanson was honored for his courage outside of school — saving his father’s life by performing CPR. He went in to school the next day and brought his usual positivity according to a staff member. Dwyer is a junior automotive technology student.
“We’re lucky to have a student like James at South Shore Vocational High School,” said a member of the faculty.
The committee also heard an update on plans for a new horticulture program, which South Shore Tech is interested in adding as soon as the next year.
According to Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas Hickey, this would be a slow-building program, starting with a single instructional hire with a landscaping background. In addition to this, Hickey said that a member of the science faculty would contribute to this program by teaching plant science. This would only be temporary, as once the program grows a second faculty member would be hired and dedicated to the program.
To add a new program, state law requires that SSVT show a demand for jobs in a particular field.
There is a lot of optimism from Hickey that this will happen.
“I saw 23 different companies in a survey that they annually hire 98 to 106. That’s a pretty significant number,” said Hickey
In addition to looking at the labor demand, guidance counselors for incoming freshman asked about their interest in the program, since the program is not listed currently in the brochure.
“Sixty-five percent said they want that on their list” said Hickey
Guidance counselors also asked current freshman if they would have been interested in the program.
“We asked, if they could turn back time would they have explored this program? Over 50 percent of students would have been interested,” he said.
Hickey stated that the only agricultural high school in the area is Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole — almost 30 miles away from SSVT. Hickey said he recognizes this discourages many South Shore students from pursuing agriculture.
In other business, Principal Margaret Dutch and members of the school committee are currently reviewing new ideas for the breakfast program.
“We want to assure breakfast is available to all students and that the breakfast they are receiving is appropriate for starting their school day,” she said adding that they are currently looking at data to support this initiative.
There are many varying perspectives on how to approach this issue. Dutch points out that students, parents, teachers and faculty view this very differently and that each perspective needs to be accounted for.
Timing, for example, is an issue. It is now unclear if breakfast would be available before classes or take place during classroom time.
Chairman Robert Molla questioned if this would interrupt class time.
“We don’t have enough time for educational purposes,” said Molla
Principal Dutch responded, “If you have someone who’s hungry, are they engaging in the education anyway?”
Dutch also posed an additional question, “Is just eating something a breakfast? Or does it need to be something specific and balanced?”
She said the meal would be required to meet the healthy food standards in the same capacity that the lunch program does.
There are many ways to approach this topic.
“We’ve talked about our bus schedules, if kids are getting off the bus with only a few minutes to spare they might not want to risk getting food,” Hickey said. “If kids are interested in getting food before class, we should consider rolling back our bus schedule.”
Dutch said that they did not expect a small idea like breakfast to grow into such a complex and nuanced issue.