| Lauren LeBel
AGAWAM – Agawam High School was recently awarded $58,188, allowing for the expansion of its existing early career programs in manufacturing and information technology.
The grant came from the Baker-Polito Administration, in which they awarded more than $100 million in Skills Capital Grants to 47 high schools, colleges and educational institutions across the state. The latest round of grants totaled more than $9.7 million.
According to a press release, the Skills Capital Grant Program launched in 2015, in an effort to replace outdated equipment and technology at a variety of schools. “Since then, the program has evolved into a crucial component of local workforce training efforts by expanding the number of young people and adults trained and experienced with the newest technologies used by local employers,” read the press release. As a result, approximately 40,000 students across the commonwealth have benefited directly from these grants.
Agawam’s Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Salomao, said that they applied for this grant back in March. With this grant, it will solely be going toward the equipment used for the program to run. At Agawam High, they have three different programs/pathways, as described by Salomao. She explained that the manufacturing pathway was created in 2019 by the previous assistant superintendent. With the manufacturing pathway, students are able to take courses in the midst of their school days.
In addition to this, Salomao said, “We have two new programs to become pathways.”
This includes the information technology (IT) and house care pathway. “[We’re] getting them up and running,” she added.
Although they already have these programs, Salomao said it would be a different track for them. They are looking to purchase the equipment for these programs and receive pathway approval.
Alongside Salomao’s work with these programs, Career Center Coordinator Lisa Sheehan and Guidance Councilor Sue Niles have assisted. “They go through steps for recruitment and hold sessions,” said Salomao. As a team, they all have the same goal: getting students to apply to these programs offered.
As students move up through their high school years, Salomao said they learn trades and even have the option of doing internships.
“I give credit to the high school teachers for providing a more well rounded and informative [program] within our own high school walls,” said Salomao.
Agawam High School is looking to expand enrollment and the recruiting process for these programs has already begun and will continue.