By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough/Shrewsbury – Food was prepared in the kitchen and displayed as a buffet in the banquet room. Place settings were arranged alongside centerpieces. Then 72 guests were welcomed April 3 at the Courtyard by Marriott for the annual luncheon hosted by Shrewsbury High School (SHS) students participating in Mobile On-Site Vocational Education (MOVE).
MOVE is a collaboration with SHS and two Marlborough hotels, the Marriott and Best Western Royal Plaza. Students travel school days from SHS to the hotels where they practice work skills in “real world” settings.
Patrick O’Connor, MOVE class supervisor and teacher, has seen the luncheon evolve throughout seven years.
“We started this in a small room with two tables,” he said. “It keeps growing each year.”
O’Connell is pleased to prepare students with a unique opportunity.
“A meaningful educational experience that students can get at the high school level is to learn about jobs,” he said. “They get this exposure in a class that resembles having a job. There aren’t many opportunities to do that, but the MOVE program is one of them. They’re fortunate to have this experience.”
Cathy LaRoche, education director, explained MOVE to the guests.
“The mission of the MOVE program is to help students develop independence and self-confidence to function successfully in competitive employment,” she said. “Our program strives to give students the prerequisite skills that really give them a leg up when they go to look for a job.”
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer noted that he feels privileged to have seen these students grow up from when he served as principal at Floral Elementary School.
“This truly is one of my favorite events of the school year,” he said. “From the moment you walk in the door and are greeted by the students to seeing the smiles on their faces when they’re showing off their culinary skills.”
Mary Simone, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott, expressed her appreciation for the program.
“The MOVE program is a recipe for success,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have these students in our hotels every day.”
A number of students have gained employment after participating in the program. The Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel has employed three MOVE students and plans to hire more this summer, noted Arthur Correa, director of food and beverage.
“We want them as young adults to focus on future opportunities,” he said.
Current MOVE students are Zaki Allam, Sierra Bourke, Samantha Brown, Jason Galan, Dominic Hawes, Alfred Hong, Joey Jamros, Ryan Johnson, Keith Moyer, Lorena Rocha, Josh Sargent and Tyler Vu.
Instructional aides assisting MOVE students are Joe Armenti, Jill Christensen, Deborah Durin and Tracy Testa. Overseeing students in the kitchen is Chef Craig of the Marriott.
Among the guests were Melissa Maguire, director of education and pupil personnel; SHS Principal Todd Bazydlo; School Committee members Jason Palitsch, vice chair, and Erin Canzano, secretary; and MOVE students’ faculty and family members.
Photos/Ed Karvoski, Jr.