Franklin County Technical School   82 Industrial Blvd.   Turners Falls, MA 413 . 863 . 9561

Advanced Placement Courses Introduced at Franklin County Tech

For the first time in its history, Franklin County Technical School is offering advanced college placement classes that will enhance the school’s academic rigor and prepare students for higher education.

Introduced this school year, juniors and seniors can now enroll in AP English language and composition, AP statistics in the mathematics department, and AP programming and Web design in computer science, a vocational shop. FCTS Superintendent Richard J. Martin said inclusion of AP classes had been of interest for the last few years.

“We noticed over the last four or five years there was an increasing amount of parents and students inquiring of Franklin County Technical School to offer honors and advanced placement courses,” he said. “School committee member Mark Maloney also approached the school’s administration with the idea of implementing increased academic rigor by offering advanced placement courses.”

As a result, Martin, who was FCTS principal at the time, began to consult with other vocational/technical schools that have implemented advanced placement classes, including Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School, Bay Path Regional Vocational School, Worcester Technical High School, Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, and others.

“These school districts have similar student profiles and have had success with AP programs,” Martin said. “I felt we could do the same here.”

Franklin County Technical School was also urged by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and New England Association of Schools and Colleges to increase academic rigor.

The state has a $2.4 million budget line item to expand advanced placement courses. Martin used some of that money to hire Mass Insight Education, a nonprofit that has worked with 130 schools in Massachusetts to assist FCTS in introducing advanced placement classes by training teachers, developing and implementing courses.

“Through Mass Insight, we had a half dozen teachers attend a week-long training at Bridgewater State University to prepare for the 2015-2016 school year,” Martin said.

FCTS sees a number of benefits to implementing the AP courses. Students who take the courses will have more opportunity upon graduation to choose between entering the workforce or attend college. Students that pass the AP exam with a score of 3 or better on a scale from 1-5 can receive college credit. Attracting higher academic students will increase enrollment and scores in the computer science advanced placement courses in future years.

Also, advanced CNC, computer programming, HTML coding and other high skill vocational programs naturally attract students with strong academic skills. As a result, students that come to FCTS because of the AP classes will also increase the quality of students in high end vocational shops.

“We want to prepare our students for 21st century skills and college and to be career-ready,” Martin said. ‘We’ve always done well with career-readiness, and we’re making significant strides in the college preparation portion of that statement. The goal of offering AP classes is to help students understand the academic rigor they’ll face at the next level. About 50 percent of our students go onto higher education. It’s necessary to help them understand what’s expected of them.”

Cool Rides Car Show to Offer More Activities, Awards, and Attractions

The Cool Rides Car Show, held at Franklin County Technical School, just keeps growing and expanding and this year is no exception.

The 6th annual event has become increasingly popular to the point where organizers Philip Foisy, an instructor in the school’s Pre-Employment Program, and mathematics teacher Thomas Specht, say Cool Rides is the largest car show of its type in Franklin County.

“Of all of the car shows, this is the one you must go to,” Foisy said. “We have a variety of cars, motorcycles, trucks, farm tractors, demonstrations, children’s activities, and food. We have something for everybody. If the weather is good, I’m confident the car show will increase 25 percent by participants and spectators.”

Cool Rides Car Show will be held on Saturday, September 26th on the school’s grounds at 82 Industrial Boulevard, Turners Falls. The show will go on rain or shine from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. This family event is free of charge, although a $2 per vehicle donation is encouraged.

There is no registration fee for participants. The show is held on the Nancy Gifford football practice field, located on the side of the school.

For the first time this year, a Best of Show trophy will be awarded. The trophy is being created by students in the FCTS Welding program.

“The trophy is large with a solid wood base,” Foisy said. “On the top we have pistons, connecting rods, a flywheel, cam shaft and other auto parts welded together. It’s big and little on the gaudy side, but very cool.”

Participants who want to win the trophy do so by buying a vote for a $1 each. The participant with the most votes wins.

Show organizers will also hand out 25 Favorite Ride trophies made of aluminum with a wood base. The trophy was designed by FCTS CAD/CAM instructor Michael Threrrien and made by students in the Machine Technology shop.

The first 200 participants will receive a gift bag that includes several items, including a dash plaque.

Last year’s Cool Rides Car Show, the largest to date, attracted 253 participating vehicle owners and a crowd of about 1,000 spectators. This was an increase of about 30 percent in both participants and spectators over the 2013 event.

“A lot of work is put into the car show with the hopes that it would grow,” Specht said.

Besides the wide range of vehicles on display, Cool Rides will feature several other activities, including kid’s attractions like face painting, coloring books, and petting zoo.

Cool Rides Car Show to Offer More Activities, Awards, and Attractions

The ever-popular “Bash It For A Buck” where, for the price of a donation, participants can whack an old car with a sledgehammer will be back. Proceeds benefit the car show.

A new activity is the PEP Dragway, operated by the school’s Pre-Employment Program students. The drag way is a 24-foot gravity track where kids can race Hot Wheels cars. The Hot Wheels cars will be available for purchase at the car show.

A new feature will be the Mustang Corral, a designated area conceived by FCTS Technology Network Systems Engineer Jamie Noel, who owns a high performance Ford Mustang. The area will be a specially designated place for Mustang owners to park their cars, gather and enjoy all things Mustang.

Franklin County Technical School will have a number of clubs and shops participating in the Cool Rides Car Show. SkillsUSA will conduct a raffle; the Honor Society will sell coffee and donuts beginning at 8 a.m.; the Alumni Association will sell tee-shirts; PEP will sell kettle corn, soda and water; and FCTS School Store will sell school apparel and accessories.

“Everything is volunteer, from the organizers to the student workers,” Foisy said. “All of the club activities benefit the school’s clubs and organizations.”

The FCTS Health Technology program will conduct blood pressure screening.

The Culinary Arts program, headed up by Chef Benjamin Pike and instructor Brenda Fortin, will again host “Taste of Tech,” a menu of food prepared by staff and students. The menu includes a pulled pork sandwich, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hand-cut French fries, root quesadilla, desserts, coffee and beverages. The deviled eggs and autumn bisque soup will be made with ingredients from local farms.

If anyone needs documents shredded, Valley Green Shredding will be at school entrance on the day of the car show. Drop-off is from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and the cost is $5 a bag. The fundraising event will benefit the class of 2017. It is not necessary to attend the car show to participate in the shredding.

Cool Rides Car Show to Offer More Activities, Awards, and Attractions

FCTS shops will be open to the public. Machine Technology will be open for people to tour throughout the Cool Rides Car Show. A Franklin County Technical School staff member will lead tours of other vocational program at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

The Cool Rides Car Show has become a yearly event that many participants look forward to.

“It’s an outing for a lot of people,” Specht said. “These guys are diehards. A lot of participants will travel together to come to the show. It’s a community and there’s always a story behind the cars.”

No pets are allowed at the event. FCTS is a tobacco-free campus.

For more information, contact Phil Foisy at (413) 863-9561, ext. 264, or Tom Specht at (413) 863-9561, ext. 271. Call (413) 262-3601 on the day of the show.

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