Students in Diman's Building & Property maintenance program working on improvements to Beech Grove Cemetery in Westport, including re-shingling one side of the maintenance shed. Photo by Patrick Bowen
The Herald News
FALL RIVER — Students at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School are taking the lead on two construction projects in the community, building an on-site restroom for cemetery workers in Westport and a building addition for a local nonprofit.
“They get to use skills they learn in the shop area in a real-life setting,” said Maria Torres, the school’s Assistant Principal of Technical Affairs.
Each year, Diman students learning different construction trades spend their senior year working to build a house in one of the town’s sending communities — Fall River, Somerset, Swansea or Westport. Students in the school’s carpentry and cabinet making, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and building and property maintenance programs participate.
Community members can apply to have a house built for them, with the parameter that construction must be able to be completed within a single school year. They then pay the school 10% of the house’s assessed value.
This year, students are constructing an addition to a facility in Swansea that belongs to People, Incorporated, a local human services nonprofit. Walls are up for the new addition, with electrical work beginning soon, Torres said.
The project is a step up from the learning students have access to on-campus, like studying building codes and building a shed, Torres said.
Diman students are also working on a series of improvements in Westport’s Beech Grove Cemetery. Seniors in the building and property maintenance program installed a bathroom for cemetery workers at the cemetery’s maintenance garage. Next, plumbing students plan to make the bathroom functional.
Students in Diman's building and property maintenance program are working on improvements to Beech Grove Cemetery in Westport, including re-shingling one side of the maintenance shed.
Along with the bathroom, students are re-shingling one side of the maintenance shed and repaired several historic gates throughout the cemetery. Like most community projects, Westport will be responsible for the cost of materials, but not labor.
Patrick Bowen, a building and property maintenance instructor at the school, said this sort of hands-on work that directly benefits the community is typical for seniors in his program. Previously, they’ve done projects like rebuilding dugouts in Swansea’s baseball fields and remodeling bathrooms in the field’s snack shack to make them accessible.
“We’re out of the classroom every day,” he said. “We listen to announcements and then we get in the vans and we go do stuff.”