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Thursday, Feb 28, 2013

Berkshire student helps community center

Berkshire student builds swimmers starter blocks for local community center


Swimmers competing in events at the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts are now using new starter/diving blocks, thanks to seventeen year old Andre I., a student at Berkshire High School. Andre was participating in the Youth Workforce Development Program at Berkshire Farm Center & Services for Youth.

The community center has had to replace or repair their starter blocks twice in the past five years, according to Aquatics Director Marie Ruel.  " They were slippery and rotting because of heat and moisture getting into the wood," explained Ruel.

imageAndre, who recently went back home, designed the blocks, cut lumber, and built four new diving blocks, which he painted with a rubber coating and gritted surface  so swimmers could jump off the blocks safely. Andre also stenciled each block with the center's name and a lane number.

“This young man went home with a new and well-deserved sense of pride, accomplishment, and the kind of confidence he will need to enter the workforce or go on to college – or both,” said Timothy Giacchetta, Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Farm Center, and the President of the Berkshire Union Free School Board.

Acrobat PDF File Read related article in Berkshire Eagle newspaper >

"Andre is just one example of why it was so important for Berkshire to create a comprehensive Workforce Development Program," said Bruce Potter, Superintendent of Berkshire Union Free School District.  "Students who connect authentic work experience to their school program are less likely to drop out of high school," added Mr. Potter.

Andre is justly proud of his work and credits Berkshire's Workforce Development Program for inspiring him.  "Ever since my arrival on the Berkshire campus, I learned structure, independence, confidence in myself, and a strong work ethic, which I received through my paid work experience," said Andre. "I now know how to frame a room, paint, install carpet, and build useful things like these swimmers blocks. I also have a pretty nice savings account," he added with a smile. Andre has plans for the future, too . . . he intends to become a plastic surgeon someday.

Located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center is a multi-service organization empowering children and youth, with a special emphasis on girls, to become responsible, confident and personally fulfilled individuals. The center is more than 100 years old.

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