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More in Schools
Oxford Hills Technical School students succeed
OXFORD HILLS — Automotive Technology. Building Construction. Early Childhood Education (ECE). Graphic and Printing Technology. Fashion Design. Forestry. Law Enforcement – those are just some of the technical classes offered at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.
When a student enters their sophomore year of high school, they are invited to sign up for one of the 19 technical programs in OHCHS. After being interviewed, they can take the class for as many years as they like – one, two or three years.
And others take it for life.
Cauldwell Jackson is currently enrolled at the University of Fort Kent, working towards a degree in forestry. Jackson graduated in 2012 and he was enrolled in the forestry class his junior and senior years of high school.
“I’m here [Fort Kent] for two-and-a-half years,” says Jackson, “I want to go into the Maine Forestry Service after I graduate or be a private contractor.”
Jackson says that he’s from an area that had a lot of woods, and that’s one of the reasons he wanted to be in a program that worked with trees.
“We used to do wood harvesting from December to March, cutting down trees, learning about tree biology, hand sawing, and mapping with a compass,” Jackson says.
Also, when Jackson was a senior, he had to do a big project in order to get credit.
“I did my project with Jimmy Blake [another forestry student]. We went out to Roberts Farm to inventory an area of land. We had to see what type of wood was out there, plan out what was going to be cut, check the soil, find out what would grow there, and other things like that.”
Jackson is grateful that he took the class, stating, “the class was very helpful. There’s other kids in my class at college that don’t have as much experience. I have a leg up.”
Other students feel the same. They say they learned more at OHTS than other students in college.
Hannah Brown currently owns her own online store called Blue Eyed Boutique. Brown took the fashion design class during her sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school.
The Blue Eyed Boutique is hosted on Etsy.com, an arts and crafts marketplace site.
As the “about me” section of Brown's profile says, “I am a designer with an avid interest in upcycling, vintage, crafts and couture. I live for the challenge of taking a garment that already exists and making it into something new and exciting and unique. Plus, it is a green way to design! I take preexisting clothing and redo it. I do it a lot with wedding dresses and wedding veils.”
Brown is also a professional costume designer in the southern Maine area.
“I went to Parsons College for my first year of college, intending to go into fashion design. But then I decided I want to work in theatre,” Brown says.
She always had a passion for theatre. “I did costume design. I went to New York for a year, but Maine felt better," she says.
Brown started her boutique in June of 2011.
“I’ve had brides from all over the world. From France, England, Australia, all over," she says.
Brown also says that selling is a dying art, but she enjoys what she does.
“Sometimes I have these awful '80s dresses, and seeing the before and after is one of my favorite things."
One of the things that Brown says helped her was learning how to sew by her now-retired teacher whom the students called “Auntie Barbara.”
“When I took the class, Auntie Barbara taught us sewing ... I use sewing every single day," she says.
According to Brown, like Jackson, she feels she has a leg up on other students taking the same courses at OHTS.
“I already knew how to sew, and a lot of the girls at Parsons didn’t," Brown explained.
Brown isn’t the only one with a successful job. Andrea Hart is a second grade teacher at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway.
A graduate from OHCHS in 2007, Hart is fresh out of college. She received a Bachelor's degree in social and behavioral science from the University of Southern Maine.
Hart took Early Childhood Education her junior year of high school. As a senior, she completed an internship with Guy E. Rowe teacher Mrs. Lori Plummer, a kindergarten teacher.
“The ECE program helped reassure me that I wanted this career. I liked being with the kids, seeing how they learned, seeing their reactions,” says Hart.
After graduating, Hart did a master's program for nine months, and got her first teaching job at Guy E. Rowe within six weeks.
“Without it, [ECE] I probably would’ve geared towards the preschoolers,” which Hart says she would’ve regretted.
Jackson, Brown, and Hart are all at different stages in their lives. But each one took the important things they learned in their technical programs and applied it towards their futures.
As Jackson says, “I like how we have the technical programs. After all, we are a trade community.”