By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School’s longtime House Carpentry instructor Wayne Coulson has a new title under his hardhat this year. As the off-campus project coordinator, Coulson is charged with scheduling, organizing, and monitoring the various offsite projects that the school has on the docket, while still teaching his own students.
“I love it!” he said. “I have been doing the offsite projects for a few years now, and there is nothing better than heading out to a real construction project with these kids and teaching them how things really work.
“Doing the coordination of the other construction programs coming out at the appropriate time is a natural extension of what I do. Last year, the Habitat for Humanity project in Northborough had all of us out there at various times and it was great.”
Assabet has been giving the work extension opportunity to juniors and seniors for years, and it has been a win-win for both the school and the municipalities. The cost is far less than hiring established contractors and the students get valuable on-the-job training. Assabet’s instructors are qualified and certified, with Coulson acting the part of general contractor. It is such a popular alternative for local communities that Coulson has some projects lined up for the next few years already, from repairs and renovations to finish work and complete builds.
This year, Southborough is saving tens of thousands of dollars on a renovation of their club house at the Southborough Golf Course. The original building was picked up and moved to a new foundation by a contractor to make room for the new Public Safety Complex. Assabet will be installing new siding, trim, a new roof and a large deck with stairs, as well as replacing at least one of the double doors and all the window and corner trim. The Electrical Wiring students will take care of the light fixtures.
From there, the students will go to the Hudson Food Pantry to do some interior work, including some cabinetry, a new counter, bookcase storage units, wall cabinets and a bench. Plumbing students will install a new double stainless-steel sink, and Electrical Wiring will add or replace any necessary wiring. There is also a possible garage addition in the works for the spring in Hudson.
Next year, there are plans being put in place for some interior work to be done on a large metal building purchased by the Northborough DPW. Assabet House Carpentry, Electrical Wiring, Plumbing, and Painting and Design students will all participate. They will also do some retrofitting and interior remodeling, including construction of new interior walls on some existing buildings there.
Although sometimes the weather is not ideal for outside work, senior Devin Colcord from Marlborough enjoys the opportunity.
“This shows us what the jobsites will be like in our futures, and we get the experience of working outside with lots of tools instead of just doing small projects in the shop,” he said. “When I go past some buildings I worked on last year as a junior, I feel a lot of pride in saying. ‘I built that!’”