By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – On Dec. 16, students from the Shrewsbury High School M.O.V.E. (Mobile On-Site Vocational Exploration) program were excited to show off this year’s gingerbread house which was recently installed in the main office of the school.
The creation was a confectionery delight that included countless graham crackers, several marshmallow snow people, a festive wreath made of tinsel, a train track and train, and a set of battery-operated lights so that Santa (who was in the chimney) could see what he was doing.
M.O.V.E. is a partnership with the Best Western and Marriott hotels in Marlborough that provides students, who are identified as needing extra support in the areas of social/personal behavior or classroom achievement, with a unique vocational experience.
M.O.V.E. provides site-based training with the primary goal of helping students develop appropriate work behaviors to better equip them for life beyond school. Students who participate also earn elective credits.
Blake Alleyn, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Marlborough, was on hand to see for himself the gingerbread house on display. It was his first time viewing the group’s handiwork, having just taken over the position of general manger last February.
Alleyn explained that his involvement with the program included facilitating special events and activities both at school and at the hotel and providing students opportunities to gain exposure to real-life experiences.
Eighteen students, from freshmen to seniors, are participating this year. He said that it was a good mix of older and new students.
In his role, Alleyn wishes to ensure that they continue to give the students opportunities with what they can offer through the kitchen, culinary and housekeeping side, but to also broaden the experience to other facets of the hotel based on the interests of the students.
Special education teacher Patrick O’Connor said he is very pleased that the program will continue to enjoy the commitment, investment and advocacy with Alleyn as general manager.
“He really seems to understand the goals of the class,” O’Connor noted. “He has made an effort to connect with the students and all of the representatives here at the school…This is going to be a very productive relationship.”
For Alleyn, this type of program is personal because he has several family members with special needs.
“Knowing that there are programs like this in the schools available to kids that no matter what type of circumstances they may have to deal with,” Alleyn said. “That there is something that helps to give them some of the same experiences through their school career, I think is amazing.”