LYNN — Trade education in the city isn’t just for Tech students anymore.
Now in its second year, the Technical Afterschool Program (T.A.P.) offers all Lynn high school students a chance to take extra-curricular vocational courses at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute. Brian O’Connell, a Tech guidance counselor who started the program, said it has become very popular with high school students across the city.
“I went to high school at Lynn English and I was one of those students who came out and didn’t have a direction at first,” said O’Connell. “A program that gives some sort of skill set for when you leave school is invaluable. Last year, we had a female student who went to culinary school because of this program and another student who took an auto job at Honda.”
Last year, 18 students joined an auto tech course, 18 took an auto body course, and 36 attended one of two culinary arts courses, according to O’Connell. With an influx in applications, the program had to roll over 30 students because there were more applicants than the program was able to facilitate.
This year, the 10-week program, held on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning in March, will offer two culinary courses and a course on both screenprinting and using Adobe Illustrator. Beyond school credit, students can earn certificates that could jumpstart them into the workforce.
“Technical and vocational skills are very popular right now, and for good reason, so it’s hard pressed to find a vocational school in Massachusetts that doesn’t have a waitlist, including Lynn Tech,” said Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler. “This is a wonderful opportunity to expand vocational offerings to students in the comprehensive high schools.”
The program is almost entirely funded through the school administration’s Title I grant, according to Tutwiler. The provided transportation to Lynn Tech is funded through the school’s operating budget and dinner for students is funded through the food services budget.
School Committee member Brian Castellanos said the program gives students real-world employment skills. Not every student wants to go to a traditional four-year college, so T.A.P. gives them an opportunity to explore other pathways, he said.
“I’d like to see us expand this with more students and a variety of more course offerings,” said Castellanos. “We are a community, we need to stick together, and we need to continue what we do as leaders. There are people working around the clock to get things done by thinking outside the box.”