Region 9 School of Applied Technology Director Brenda Gammon, center right, speaks to the board of directors Wednesday at the school in Mexico. From left are directors Brian Keene of Canton, Judy Boucher of Byron, Chairman Norman Clanton of Bethel, Gammon, Paul Handlen of Gilead, Bruce Ross of Dixfield, Peter DeFilipp of Mexico and Greg Buccina of Rumford. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — About 100 more students are enrolled in vocational education classes this year than last, directors of Region 9 School of Applied Technology were told Wednesday.

Of the 209 registered, 119 are from Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, 55 from Dirigo High School in Dixfield, 34 from Telstar High School in Bethel and one from Buckfield Junior-Senior High School, Assistant Director Jenn Whittemore said.

The highest enrollment among the 12 course offerings is in the culinary arts program with 33 students and two on a waiting list. The metal trades and automotive technology programs each have 24 students, and the introduction to career and technical education class has 19 students.

Other courses with higher student enrollment this year than last include building construction, 18; certified nursing assistant, 16; and early childhood education, 15.

Director Bruce Ross of Dixfield asked Whittemore if the plumbing program, which is not offered because no students signed up, might be renamed or repurposed.

Region 9 Director Brenda Gammon said she has spoken with Maine State Department of Education staff about the possibility of the school incorporating a plumbing program within a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration program.


“It’s two separate applications and to be honest, it’s also another building” that would be required, she said.

The board also heard from Adult Education Director Dave Murphy who said a certified nursing assistant course and New Ventures Maine are being offered this year in collaboration with the University of Maine at Augusta in Rumford.

New Ventures Maine will offer free programs in financial literacy and other related topics, Murphy said, with classes at schools in Regional School Unit 10 and Regional School Unit 56.

RSU 10 schools are in Rumford, Mexico, Buckfield and Sumner. RSU 56 schools are in Dixfield and Peru.

Murphy said the adult education program will schedule talks throughout the year to learn about various professions. He anticipates having Mike Field, a Region 9 graduate and owner of Field’s Plumbing and Heating as speaker at the first community talk.

“We anticipate opening this program to both adults and high school students to provide more information about a career that is in great demand in the area,” Murphy said.

In other business, Gammon said representatives of Harriman architectural firm will attend the Oct. 4 board meeting to discuss designing a classroom and lab space for the welding program, a greenhouse and an outdoor kitchen with open-flame cooking areas, a smoker, grills and food preparation areas for the culinary arts program.

In November 2022, residents from the 16 towns that support Region 9 voted 8,721 to 963 for a $5.48 million state grant for both construction projects and to establish a four-season, outdoor education center with water access for the school’s outdoor skills and leadership program. All three projects were funded by the state grant.

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