Back to school for hands-on learning at Franklin Tech, Greenfield Schools

  • Christine DeBarge, the new superintendent of the Greenfield Public School District, outside Greenfield Middle School. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Arriving at the Greenfield Middle School for the first day of school with mom Brenda Arroyo, right, are Arieliz who is going into sixth grade and Isaihn, who will be in fifth. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Principal Brian Spadafino speaks with teachers gathered outside of Franklin County Technical School prior to a ninth-grade assembly on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • First-year and third-year students arrive for the first day of classes at Franklin County Technical School on Wednesday. Julian Mendoza

  • First-year students at Franklin County Technical School gather for an informational assembly in a tent outside the school building on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Published: 9/1/2021 6:18:31 PM

As school kicks back into gear, students and staff at Franklin County Technical School and the Greenfield School District are looking forward to a year of hands-on learning.

Franklin County Technical School

The beginning of Franklin County Technical School’s school year spans the course of three days. On Wednesday, ninth and 11th graders returned. On Thursday, 10th and 12th graders return; and on Friday, Sept. 3, all classes will be present.

“We’re excited. We’ve had a couple of good professional development days,” Principal Brian Spadafino said. “We’re excited to see kids’ faces, even if they’re under masks.”

Wednesday’s opening day began with first-year students gathering under an outdoor tent to receive homeroom assignments, schedules and other introductory information. After breakfast, third-year students headed directly to their shops. For many first-year students, these shops are a primary source of excitement.

“We’re feeling good. Excited,” first-year student Alex Amato said.

“It has shops,” said first-year student Colby Merritt, who plans to study welding. “I’m more of a hands-on learner.”

“Their shop classes, they typically become like communities or families,” Spadafino said.

Third-year students, having already gotten a taste of what it’s like to work in their shops, said that they’re grateful for the ability to be physically present.

“We’ve had a lot of setbacks because of COVID, so I’m definitely excited to be back in school on time,” said Anna Morrissey, a third-year student working in veterinary technology.

“I think it’s very hard,” said Natalia Guzman, a third-year student working in health technology. “Because it’s a tech (school), it’s very hands-on. It’s hard to do on a computer because you can’t pay as much attention to the subject.”

Student excitement is further fueled by the school’s growth.

“I’m excited because we have two new shop teachers this year, so I’m excited to see how the program will develop,” Morrissey said.

In addition to Franklin County Tech bolstering its staff, the school is bringing in a class of 165 first-year students and generally seeing growing local interest from families.

“We’re excited that there’s interest in our school,” Spadafino said. “We feel like we’re giving kids a good opportunity, whether they’re going into the workforce, into college, or into the military … I think we’ve got something for everybody here.”

Greenfield School District

 There’s nothing quite like the first day of school — new teachers, new books and supplies, and the excitement of getting to reunite with classmates.

“There’s nothing quite like a opening a new box of crayons, right?” said Greenfield School District Superintendent Christine DeBarge.

The students weren’t the only ones settling into a new routine on Wednesday. DeBarge, who was appointed superintendent by the School Committee earlier this summer and settled into the role just over a week ago, also experienced her first day of school in the district.

“Everybody is extremely welcoming and helpful,” she said. “It’s a little bit challenging starting so close to the first day of school, but I got to hit the ground running. I’m learning a lot about the Greenfield schools very quickly.”

DeBarge said her priority for the year is ensuring the health and safety of the school community, with the ultimate goal of keeping students and staff inschool in person for the year.

“There’s no substitute for having students in front of highly qualified staff, whether it’s our teaching staff, instructional aides, or food service people,” she said. “We all contribute to the education of our students.”

Even with the masks that are required of everyone in the building this fall — unless a medical exemption applies — “it’s still the same environment.”

“I’m glad we get to have that this year,” she said. “I’m glad for all the students that they get to be with their friends.”


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy