Not so long ago, American craftsmen and professionals (there’s no definitive difference) were taught by apprenticeship, on the job. Law and medical schools only developed in the 19th Century; engineering and some sciences in the Land Grant colleges after the Civil War. Big cities got technical high schools around the turn of the Century.

In rural and small-town America, young people continued to attend basically academic schools, many leaving at 14, 16, or 18 years of age for crafts, trades, and colleges. By the end of World War II, more and more skilled work seemed to demand more, but different, formal education. The later years of high school had always prepared the college-bound; now they would educate many other young people as well. It meant new teachers, new approaches, and expensive facilities.

In Bethel, Gould Academy remained traditionally academic; Telstar High School met new and diverse demands. But technical education continues to proliferate, diversify, and cost more. Hence specialized facilities, the costs, and student places shared among several school districts, as is the case with Region 9’s School of Applied Technology.

R9 prepares people for vital roles in our communities. The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of health workers who keep us alive, but also the truckers who keep supply chains functioning, the child carers and chefs whose services we’ve sometimes missed, the builders who improve the homes where we’ve spent more time … .

For many students, R9 is just the beginning of a career. Metal trades, building construction, automotive, and culinary arts often lead to useful, profitable businesses. Certified Nursing Assistants needn’t always assist. Fire Science is a beginning: firefighters train and learn throughout their careers. Computer technologists work everywhere.

The School is an important part of MSAD 44. Telstar students are making good use of it. Very good: nine of our current students are members of the National Technical Honor Society. (You’ve probably seen signs on lawns.)

Jenn Whittemore of Region 9 emphasizes that these students have been carefully selected by their instructors: working hard and successfully, they’re the best. In joining the Honor Society, they commit themselves to what they’ve already manifested: striving for excellence, ethical behavior, citizenship… .

They deserve to be named: Janna Botka, Adeline Charette, Darren Dodson-Welch, Myles James, Andrew Leighton, Jacob Lyman, Kyra Rose-Espinoza, Emma Sweetser, and Colby Tyler. Congratulations!

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