New Year, New Opportunities

The beginning of 2019 is bringing new opportunities for our students on Cape Ann.

The first Gloucester High School students have matriculated into the new vocational training program that we facilitated with the Laborers Union and Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School. Last week, they were given new boots and jackets to be equipped to learn valuable trade skills. Students complete their academic studies at Gloucester High School in the morning and spend the afternoon at Essex North Shore learning vocational skills from Laborers.

Upon graduation, which will be after two years in the program, students will be 18 months into their internship, earning approximately $20 per hour plus benefits. For these students, a career path is available with credited trade experience for profitable employment or it can serve as a path to help pay their way through college. Whichever path they decide to pursue, students are gaining invaluable life skills and are preparing themselves for the next chapter in their lives.

I’m proud of these students and impressed by their commitment and enthusiasm. As word of this opportunity spreads and other students see how it is enriching their classmates, I am sure will will see increased interest in this program.

Another educational opportunity for students was unveiled last week with the opening of the O’Maley Innovation Middle School Biolab. The Gloucester Education Foundation and O’Maley Innovation Middle School developed this project together in 2015 with the objective to bring aquaponics to O’Maley. Over the past four years, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Cell Signaling Technology, Applied Materials, and the Cummings Foundation invested significant funding to grow the aquaponics project and biolab.

Some fun facts about aquaponics according to the O’Maley Biolab brochure:

  • Aquaponics method of growing produces ten times more crops than in traditional agricultural space.
  • The practice consumes 75% less energy than mechanized agriculture.
  • It uses 80-95% less water than traditional farming methods.
  • This method of growing is less labor intensive than other agricultural methods.
  • It promotes strategies for climate change and adaptation and natural resources conservation.

This project will expose sixth to eighth graders to biotechnology prior to their arrival to high school. In addition, this program also complements the innovative work being done at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute for older students.

I’m immensely proud to have been involved with these projects that are creating new pathways for Cape Ann’s students to enter into the workforce. As we continue to grapple with the challenges of a changing economy, together we are building a roadmap for success for Cape Ann and its residents.

I look forward to continue collaborating on new initiatives that will move our communities into the future.