PVRS alumnus heads to Haiti for groundbreaking of school he helped design
BERNARDSTON — Ethan Seaman will soon head to Haiti to see his college project start to take shape.
Seaman, 22, who graduated from Pioneer Valley Regional School and whose family lives in Bernardston, spent his last two semesters in Keene State College’s architecture program helping to design a new vocational school for the Caribbean nation’s Plateau Central region.
“I really enjoyed the project,” Seaman said. “I’m excited to go to Haiti for the groundbreaking. It will be my first time overseas.”
By the time he joined, other students had already put a semester’s worth of work into it, taking care of much of the research. Seaman and other architecture students were tasked with designing the school’s campus.
On Tuesday , he’ll board a plane and fly into Port Au Prince, where he’ll tour the capital city and the Statehouse.
Then, he’ll head to the future site of the Hinche Vocational School for its groundbreaking ceremony. He will also conduct more research on the project.
Though construction will begin this summer, it will be years before the school is finished. The three-building campus will be built in phases, starting with the main building. Since it’s a brand new school without an existing student base, this will allow it to grow along with enrollment.
Seaman said it was challenging to design a school from scratch.
“With a project like the new Greenfield High School, you already know how many students and administrators you need to provide for,” he explained. “For the school in Haiti, though, we don’t know how many students there will be at each phase.”
Knowing that the school would grow over time, the design calls for a master plan for expansion.
“Each building will (eventually) be like a complex of buildings,” he explained. “As time goes on, each building will grow as the school grows.”
They’re anticipating an initial enrollment of 20 to 30 students, growing beyond 150 within a few years.
An auto repair shop will be built in the second phase of construction. Seaman said this will allow the school to teach mechanics, and bring in some revenue for the school by fixing cars and trucks for locals.
The project is a collaboration of Keene State’s Communicorps class, Architecture for Humanity and the Organization of Support to the Development of the Plateau Central, a group of Haitian Americans in Boston.
Seaman’s trip is sponsored by California architect Bruce Norlius, who was looking for an architecture student working on a project in a developing country. Architecture for Humanity referred him to Seaman, and now the graduate will get some on-site experience.
Since Seaman graduated in May, he has moved to Salem and taken a job with the Conservation Service Group, performing energy audits for homeowners and helping them save on energy costs.
Though he’s a new hire, he said the company was glad to grant him the time off and save his position.
“They were all excited and happy to hear someone from the company was going abroad to do international work,” he said.