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Tech Prep students showcase their real-world assignments


MASSENA - Juniors in the Massena High School Tech Prep program got real world experience this year working with St. Lawrence University, Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Massena Memorial Hospital, Odyssey Day Care and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

They teamed up with representatives from each organization to do case-studies that they presented during a banquet this week.

“This is the culminating piece of Tech Prep,” said Burton Peck, one of the school’s Tech Prep teachers.

He said the students honed their skills in public speaking in December and received a sample case in January that they worked on for three weeks to develop their problem solving skills and teamwork.

After that, it was time for real world problem solving.

Students Jeanette Rochefort, Ashley Tanuis, Kara LaShomb and Chelsea Meldrum worked with St. Lawrence University officials in Canton to recommend local ingredients that could be used for recipes in the university’s dining hall. Their task, Ms. Rochefort said, was to develop two fall and two spring recipes using vegetables and meats.

After consulting with SLU officials and local growers, they ultimately came up with a menu of Vegetarian Chipotle Nachos, Pasta Primavera, Ham and Swish Hash Brown Bake, and Sylvia’s Ribs. Among their local grower consultants was Sue Rau, manager of the North Country Grower Cooperative where St. Lawrence University receives most of its food, according to Ms. Tanuis.

Ms. Meldrum said they settled on fall recipes of Vegetarian Chipotle Nachos and Pasta Primavera because those two dishes used ingredients that were grown in the fall.

“In the spring it’s harder to find local fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Students Josh Belile, Mark Manchester, Austin Peets and Jordan Ralston worked with Canton-Potsdam Hospital officials to perform an energy audit of the hospital. Mr. Belile said they had to determine how much energy the hospital used and make recommendations on how they could lessen that load.

Among their initiatives, he said, was to use an infrared camera to detect air leaks and work with National Grid to receive and examine five months of energy bills - from October to February - for the hospital.

“We were shown the area where they consume large amounts of energy,” Mr. Manchester said.

He said they discovered that the hospital uses two types of lighting. If one form of lighting was replaced on the first floor, Mr. Manchester said, the hospital could save $20,336.52 over a 10-year period.

Mr. Ralston said they also examined windows, which are currently single pane, and their group recommended hospital officials replace those with double-pane windows.

“We hope our projects are able to save the hospital money,” he said.

Students Annalee Beckstead, Corey Lawrence, Tyler Young and Zachary Babcock worked with Massena Memorial Hospital officials to determine the feasibility of establishing a school-based health center at Massena High School. Ms. Beckstead said it would be a doctor’s office within the school which would provide for the medical needs of students.

The clinic would be used for all students with sicknesses who require being seen by a doctor.

Mr. Lawrence said their study showed that among the barriers to students receiving necessary medical attention was a lack of transportation and the family’s economic status. He pointed out that 42.1 percent of 891 students at the high school are eligible for free or reduced lunches.

The students conducted surveys among students, faculty and the community to gauge sentiment for an in-school facility, according to Mr. Lawrence.

“That was the key to determining the feasibility of this project,” he said.

Mr. Young said their survey indicated that 70 percent of the students felt it would be beneficial. He noted that the clinic would be funded by Massena Memorial Hospital and not through tax increases.

If it was created, an in-school health center could improve the school’s attendance rate, Mr. Young said, pointing out that a school in Jefferson County saw their attendance rate increase from 94 to 97 percent.

Students Alexandra Lett, Crystal Nevine, Cody White and Rhoades Tarbell worked with Odyssey Day Care officials in Canton on a potential 8-foot by 10-foot, two-level tree house with two points of entry at the facility. Their presentation this week included architectural drawings of framing details, side elevations, structural and flooring details, and side elevations.

But much more was involved in the process, according to the students.

Ms. Lett said they had to contact the New York state Office of Child Care Licensing and Information to determine if a tree house would be allowed in a day care center.

They also had research the village ordinance regarding structures and also examine the village’s codes, regulations and requirements for construction. Among their considerations was the proximity to the parking lot at the St. Lawrence County Courthouse, which is next door to the day care center.

The students also had to develop blueprints and obtain supplies.

Ms. Nevine said that among their contacts was Russell Lawrence, Canton’s code enforcement officer, who advised them about the requirements on issues such as height of structures.

Mr. White said, because of the property line concerns, they contacted St. Lawrence County government officials to determine if the tree house would interfere with the parking lot.

Mr. Tarbell said their research showed that construction of a tree fort was achievable once original design problems were solved and the new design addressed code requirements.

He said they purchased their supplies at Lowe’s and received a 50 percent discount, allowing them to come in $600 under their $1,200 budget.

Speaking prior to their presentation, Mr. Tarbell said the assignment has made him consider a possible career change.

“I wanted a master’s in business. That’s still the road I want to take, but this definitely has sparked my interest,” he said.

The final group of students, Rory Corcoran, Tyler Haas, James George and Kaitlin Rozon, performed a study of a potential geothermal heating ventilation air conditioning system at the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s administration building. The system would use ground source energy, Mr. Corcoran said.

There were several advantages and disadvantages to the system, according to Mr. Haas. Among the advantages, he said, was the ability to use a system that was “very green due to its carbon-free operation.”

However, he noted, it was also expensive to install and the cost would be more than Seaway officials are currently paying for their energy. They had recently converted to a new HVAC system, he said.

“Our findings was that it was not cost-effective,” Mr. Haas said.

Mr. George said it would cost $100,000 for the heat pumps and ventilation unit and $200,000 for the controls to operate the system. That didn’t include other cost factors such as labor and design and engineering.

Their recommendation, Ms. Rozon said, was to explore other alternatives such as replacing the existing windows or switching to solar or wind energy.

Dr. Donna Kennedy, Tech Prep coordinator, said it was obvious the students had put a lot of work into their research.

“These students have worked awfully hard for tonight and it was very apparent,” she said.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase one of the wonderful programs we have here at the high school. It’s really a nice showcase of what the kids have done and their partnerships in the community,” Principal Patrick Farrand said.

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