Herald News Photo | Jack Foley
It is that time of year again!
The annual rituals that mark the start of spring are well underway. Days are getting noticeably longer, while spring flowers are starting to make their appearance after the long winter.
Locally, another annual ritual that marks the start of spring is the admission of new students to Diman for the start of the next school year. Of course, we are thrilled to hear from our Class of 2021 students who, having received their Diman acceptance letters, are posting pictures of themselves and their acceptance letters on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. It is right and proper for these future students to be proud that the hard work they have invested in their grammar and middle school years has resulted in joining the Diman family. We look forward to introducing them to the professional education provided at Diman, and know that a continuation of the effort that led to their acceptance, will afford them pathways to future success upon graduation from high school. We say this with great confidence, knowing the track record of college and career success of Diman graduates. Since opening its doors in September of 1968, close to 60,000 students from our four sending communities — Fall River, Somerset, Swansea, and Westport — have passed through the halls and classes of our great school.
Unfortunately, the inverse of this tradition includes the hundreds of rejection letters that prospective Diman students and their families receive, simply because we have no space to accommodate them. For us at Diman, it is hard to deliver the bad news, especially knowing the local, regional and national demand for the type of skilled workers that Diman graduates each year. In fact, the shortage of skilled workers goes beyond our national borders, as we discovered when we were lucky enough to host the German Consul General earlier in the school year, whose visit was partially prompted to develop strategies to meet the shortage of skilled workers in Germany.
The fact that Diman could play an even larger role in attracting businesses to the area by having the requisite workforce to meet industry demands is readily evident to the hundreds of companies that annually employ our students through cooperative education. Yet, we are once again limited in our ability to meet student and industry demands due to the size and structure of our physical plant. The fact that this rejection ritual at Diman has been taking place for close to two decades speaks to the type of inertia that is preventing our region from realizing its potential.
Worse still for us at Diman is to know the disappointment that comes to families when their daughters or sons are not admitted. We are painfully aware that stakeholders clearly know the benefit of the professional education we provide at Diman. Where else can students receive an industry credential that affords them increased marketability as early as the middle of grade nine?
We are pleasantly reminded by our community and industry partners of the high quality skills that our students demonstrate in their many experiential learning environments. Multiply that by four years of excellent academic and vocational education, and it is no wonder that over 300 Diman students each year work in industries that leads to either a full-time career or quality part-time work while they pursue a college degree. It saddens us that the economic opportunities that are realized by our students cannot be expanded to the hundreds who want and deserve a similarly great educational experience.
Please know that we at Diman are working hard to remedy the unfortunate spring ritual of sending hundreds of rejection letters to potential students. We all want what is best for our young people and our community, and we recognize the need to expand our offerings and our capacity. This expansion will take an enormous effort and investment, and much hard work is yet to be done. Nonetheless, the outstanding professional staff at Diman is determined and ready to work with educational partners to ensure that the transferable skills our students obtain while at Diman, leading to post-secondary college and career success, will be made available to the hundreds that are currently denied this opportunity.