FARMINGTON — Some students at Academy Hill School in Wilton are exploring career possibilities though the Kids Can program.

Commercial arts teacher Charlie Fontaine showed them how to screen print on T-shirts during an after-school session Thursday at the Mt. Blue Campus.

Fontaine and other Foster Career and Technical Education Center teachers are providing hands-on sessions in culinary arts, commercial arts, digital media and engineering, Valerie Benton, Academy Hill teacher and program leader, said.

Thursday’s class was the second screen printing session with Fontaine for the 25 students from grades three through five, he said. At the first session, students created the design for their shirt.

“It gets them thinking,” he said. “They were really enthusiastic and had a ball.”

Benton and teacher Brenda Laverdiere wanted to do something fun and to reach students who don’t get to do a lot of other things, Benton said. It is important for them to see other ways that they can make something of their future; they’re not all book students, she said.


Teachers want students to see possibilities for their future, Laverdiere said.

The teachers formed Kids Can six years ago. They recommend students they think will benefit from the group, Laverdiere said.

The group has met about twice a month this school year, she said. Teachers Leslie Kaiser and Morgan Turner have been involved.

Kids Can partnered with Foster Career and Technical Education Center a few years ago. Director Glenn Kapiloff has been supportive.

Culinary arts teacher Sean Minear provided students with hands-on experience, Laverdiere said. Minear talked about careers and let them use equipment to make pizza, she said. 

Students at the technology center also support the program, Laverdiere said. Usually two to six high school students mentor the younger students and help the teachers.


During a past session at technology center, a couple of boys saw a high school student who was preparing to go into the military cooking, Laverdiere said.

One boy said, “‘He’s cooking, I can do that,'” she said.

Kids Can also receives financial and material support from Barclays, and from its employees who mentor the students, she said.

When Barclays opened in Wilton in 2008, it partnered with Academy Hill School, manager Jen McEntee said.

“We help fund the program every year and provide volunteer support,” she said.

McEntee helped with the program when it first started.

“It was amazing,” she said of being matched with a student. “We’d get to know them. They’d open up and we would develop a relationship with them.”

The program has grown, she said, and Barclays employees, like the four at Fontaine’s class, want to participate and mentor the students.

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