Tony Trippi, who teaches Vocational Education at Morse High School in Bath, stands in front of a house that had been built by students in the Bath Regional Career & Technical Center’s Building Construction program in June 2009.by Elisa Hawkes
Coastal Journal staff
BATH — The Bath Regional Career & Technical Center (BRCTC) may look like a typical school on the outside, but it is far from typical inside. The students who attend BRCTC are given a hands-on education in a positive environment. They like going to school.
To quote the mission statement, “Bath Regional Career & Technical Center prepares students to become productive members of society by encouraging an appreciation for the dignity of work and by fostering enthusiasm for careers and post-secondary education through the use of authentic and applied learning experiences.”
Anthony Trippi, carpentry instructor at BRCTC, wholeheartedly agrees. In his program, students build a quality constructed, energy efficient home each year. The home is ready to be moved to a site where it can be attached to electrical and plumbing connections.
The home is entirely student built with the exception of plumbing, taping, and painting, which are done by subcontractors. Even the electrical work is done by students, under the supervision of master electrician Steve Vachon. The students are taught how to plan, frame, roof, wire, hang doors and windows, finish and do everything else that goes into building a house. The finished homes are inspected to ensure they conform to building codes, and receive certificates of occupancy prior to sale.
Trippi said students are so pleased with the accomplishment that they come back year after year to check on the houses they’ve built.
“At one open house,” said Trippi, “a 1972 graduate visited. He introduced himself and told me which house he had worked on. He was so proud of it. The kids never forget the houses they worked on. A huge amount of pride goes into building the house.”
The Bath Rotary Club pays for the materials used to build the student house each year. The club purchases all materials, and then adds approximately $10,000 to the cost for the BRCTC program. This includes subcontractor labor costs, college scholarships for students, needed equipment for BRCTC, and full sets of starter tools for every student in the carpentry program.
Bath Rotary Club House Manager and past President Mike Baribeau said, “Everything earned goes back into the school. It is a really worthwhile program. This vocational school is not the place where underachievers end up. There is a waiting list to get in. The kids are filled with enthusiasm, and the program builds their self esteem.”
Trippi said the funds donated to the school after cost of materials benefit all departments, not just carpentry. If the project did not exist, it would hurt all of the departments in BRCTC according to Trippi.
“As an instructor,” Trippi said, “I feel it is imperative kids work on full-scale projects to ramp them up to build later on.”
Baribeau said they have not received any complaints concerning the houses that have been built by BRCTC. The work is always exemplary.
BRCTC instructs students from four sending schools, Lincoln Academy, Boothbay Region High School, Morse High School, and Wiscasset High School. It is a half-day program, with students receiving academic instruction at the sending school. However, according to Trippi, the students use English, science, and math in his class. He told a class they were using the Pythagorean theorem in one class, and they students were amazed.
“The Rotary donation is so important to BRCTC,” Trippi said. “And without building the house, it wouldn’t happen, so we really need to sell the house.
“Many of these kids wouldn’t be in school if it wasn’t for the vocational center. That’s why I’m so passionate about what I teach. I truly care about the kids succeeding. We give them a solid set of tools to succeed in life. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
This year’s house is a modular, the eighth built in the BRCTC program. The program has been in existence since 1972. Prior to modulars, houses were stick-built on site.
The house is a student-built, 28-by-48-foot modular ranch, featuring a modern custom kitchen and great room, three bedrooms, including a master bedroom with bath and a family bath, all electrical and lights in place, and plumbing roughed in, including hot water baseboard heat units. The house is built following Maine Green Standards Building Instruction, and is up to insulation code. The kitchen and baths are complete, not including appliances. The purchaser must have land on which to place the house and is responsible for the foundation. Professionals will move the house, at the buyer’s expense.
The asking price for the house is approximately $60,000, enough to cover materials and a donation to BRCTC.
Baribeau said, “By purchasing the student-built house, you’re not only getting a quality, energy efficient home, you are ensuring the building program continues at the vocational school. Without the house sale, there is no guarantee the program will continue. That would be a real loss for the students.”
For more information, call 271-2830, or email
. For more information about BRCTC, visit bath.mainecte.org.