LEXINGTON (CBS) – Staggering student loan debt in the U.S. has a lot of families taking a new look at Vocational-Technical education for their high school kids.
This fall, a state-of-the-art school for the 21st Century will open in Lexington, led by a man who has made it his mission to change the way parents look at his school, and to help young people find their purpose.
“It took me 11 years to get this approved, but that’s too long, but that’s another story,” said Dr. Ed Bouquillon.
Traditional Minutemen were revolutionaries ready at a moment’s notice, but Dr. Ed Bouquillon is a revolutionary who has battled for over a decade to build the new Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Lexington.
As he gives the grand tour of the impressive building nearing completion in beautiful Minuteman National Historical Park, he beams with pride. “It’s almost every emotion you can imagine here other than sadness – it’s joyful, it’s exciting, I get emotional,” he said.
Dr. Bouquillon, or “Dr. B” as students call him, is the Superintendent-Director of Minuteman High School and the magnificent $144 million building that officially opens on October 4 – the school’s first update since the 1960’s. His passion is helping students find theirs.
“We are a year ahead of schedule,” he points out, “and slightly under budget. We’re going to spend all the money on the kids though – so it’s been an amazing experience. What is school for? It’s about individual economic opportunity and giving kids a sense of where they’re going and why they’re going there and that’s what Minuteman does.”
Minuteman serves ten communities West and North of Boston: Acton, Arlington, Belmont, Bolton, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Needham, and Stow.
Students can study one of more than a dozen career majors – alternating one week of academics with one week of career studies: Biotechnology, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Design and Visual communications, Early Education and Teaching, Electrical Wiring, Engineering and Robotics Automation, Environmental Science, Health Occupations, Horticulture and Plant Science, Multi-Media Engineering, Programming and Web Development, Welding and Metal Fabrication.
This is not your grandfather’s Voc/Tech school.
“It’s changed tremendously,” Bouquillon says. “When people hear that word they have negative connotations of it. Because for so many generations it was relegated to one wing of the building or the basement. It’s where “those” kids went. It has remarkably changed and evolved.”
To say he’s excited would be an understatement. His tour of the building includes stops in the massive lobby with soaring ceilings. “This is really the pumping heart of the building,” he said.
To automotive – “this is our automotive center and it’s designed like a dealership….this is a TOIL lab – stands for Technology Office Innovation Lab – it’s mirrored by the labs that they have at Lincoln Labs.”
With a stop at a Broadway-level theater: “This theater space has been designed for teaching and learning,” Bouquillon said. “We must educate the whole child the whole individual and an appreciation of the arts and the occupational opportunity in the arts is so under estimated by families and by school.”
Graduating seniors like Ben Keaton wish they could have experienced the new building, but appreciate how Minuteman prepared them – in Ben’s case for Biomedical Engineering at George Washington University: “It’s a lot different from a normal High School; you get a different education,” he explained.
Or Sophia Lee who plans to study Engineering at Carnegie-Mellon: “Coming in to Minuteman I had the general broad sense of engineering but I’ve gone through all the disciplines with different classes and learned the specific electrical engineering,” Lee said.
Dr. B gets an A+ for a job well done. “I am overwhelmingly grateful,” he said. “I’m just grateful.”
Minuteman will be able to accommodate a student body of a little over 600 students, so there will be a waiting list. Dr. B wishes he could accept them all.