The Salem News
---- — To the editor:
I was struck by the letter posted on Nov. 17 by Brian Cranney and Linda Saris in support of career-technical programs.
In 1982, I was hired by Bob Pesce, occupational education director at that time to help start up a nursing aide program at Salem High School. He had received a grant to develop this program at Salem High School. In 1985, this program was dissolved as the grant monies ran out. To this day, I have believed that this was a huge mistake.
The students who opted for this program went to Salem Hospital (NSMC-Salem) and Shaughnessy (Spaulding) Hospital and learned the basics of good nursing care. They were respected by the staff and hospitals, and they gave their hearts and souls to their patients. Many went on to college, and all got jobs. Some were even hired part time (weekends, etc.) before they even graduated from Salem High School. I will never forget the pride these students and families showed the day they graduated.
ALL of my students graduated. Many of them would tell you that, but for this course, they may not have. Today, many of them continue to be our caretakers. Others went on to other areas within the health field, and some decided health care was not for them, but all became productive, employed citizens.
Some who entered my program came with no goals, were not doing well in their classes and did not believe they had a future. When they graduated, they were amazed by what they had learned, and, yes, they all saw a future. I saw each of them grow from being a kid unsure of where or what they wanted out of life to becoming caring, dependable and self-assured graduating ADULTS. EVERY ONE of them was ready to take on the world, and they felt good about what they had accomplished at Salem High School.
We should not cut these programs, but look to build more of them. We should support these programs and allow all of Salem’s young a broad base of decisions so they, too, can become our future. We live in a great community and we should nurture all aspects of learning.
My own children graduated from Salem High School. Both are leaders and productive women today. It was the comprehensive aspect of Salem High that gave them this opportunity. I do hope that more individuals who have had some of the same unique opportunities given to them will step up and keep this discussion alive. I believe that programs offered at Salem High School that are not merely the required basic experiences of academia are an answer to helping young people see just what the real world is about and learn how to advance to their maximum level of achievement. Many kids today when asked say, “I am going to college,” but they have no idea why or what they want from this great privilege.
Cutting vocational programming and the other career technical programs is not the smartest decision one can make for the future of our children. We must open our doors in diverse ways and should encourage our children to understand that, in today’s world, it’s not a simple choice of college or vocational. The two areas interact now more than they ever have before. Students should have the opportunity to explore their options throughout high school.
I am in the medical world, and, believe it or not, there are more than 400 careers in this one area alone. We have two large facilities right down the street from Salem High School. So why did we throw that opportunity away in 1985? It was simply money. Let’s not do this again. We should preserve what we have and consider bringing in more career paths for all our students.
Gerontological nurse practitioner