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Just a Thought

My daughter was recently accepted to Blackstone Valley Tech. If anyone had asked me even a year ago if I thought I'd consider sending her to a vocational school I probably would have said no and I'll be candid as to why.

When I was growing up and going to high school many, many years ago, the kids I remember attending vocational schools were not (how do I say this), were not known to be the top notch students among their peers and teachers. From what I remember, these were the kids who had difficulties succeeding in the typical academic environment and a number of them had discipline problems as well. Picture the Judd Nelson character in the movie The Breakfast Club...that was about the extent of my exposure to vocational schools back then and honestly I didn't really bother to expand my knowledge any farther ...that is, until I found it necessary.

When Caroline told me she wanted to apply to BVT, I honestly was not initially jumping for joy. I had heard nothing but great things about the school but just wasn't convinced it was a good fit for her. Caroline is pretty much a straight A student, involved in sports, and a member of the Junior National Honor Society; just really a well rounded kid. I had always pictured her going to our newly built high school with all her friends and continuing to grow and flourish there. In fact, around this same time, I had attended the Open House for incoming freshmen parents at our high school and was very impressed with the curriculum and teachers and was fairly certain that was where she belonged.

When I asked her why she wanted to apply to BVT, she said it was an opportunity to have a different kind of high school experience and she wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. And that's when I began doing my homework as well as attending informational sessions for parents at BVT.

Over the next several months, I learned more and more about BVT, and my early impressions of vocational schools began to change...a lot. Not only does BVT have a vigorous, top-notch academic curriculum and has gone on to receive the highest MCAS scores among schools in the Blackstone Valley and highest MCAS scores among all vocational schools in the state, but its programs, or "shops" as they call them, have expanded to so much more than I realized; business technology, engineering, multimedia communications, painting and design technology just to name a few. It's also the school's philosophy, which was continually stressed by the administration, students, and former students that I spoke to, that a BVT education really prepares students to be both career and college ready.

But don't misunderstand me; vocational schools are not for everyone. I think there are just as many students who know a school like BVT is not for them and go on to thrive in their hometown high schools. But for Caroline, a BVT education is what she has chosen, and through that choice, Caroline's mom received a little bit of an education too.


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