Alvirne CTE Programs Give Students Practical Experience, Real-World Skills

February 13, 2015

by Laurie Jasper

Alvirne High School’s Wilbur H. Palmer Technical Education Center hosted its fourth annual open house for eighth, ninth and tenth graders and their parents on Wednesday evening, Feb. 4.  Students from area sending schools interested in Career and Technical Education programs not offered at their schools were also invited to tour the facility and learn about the many available opportunities.  Alvirne boasts the only working school farm, with large and small animals, which attracts many students who are interested in working with animals.

Judy King, CTE Business and Community liaison, greeted parents and students in the cafeteria, and volunteer tour guides led small groups through the center.  Those who attended registered to win various raffle prizes donated by local businesses.  Alvirne’s working dairy farm contributes to the production of Cabot Cheese.  In addition to a Cabot gift box raffle prize, Cabot also donated a large cheese platter for guests to sample.

One of the most popular spots was Checkers Restaurant, where Culinary Arts students were busy preparing samples to offer hungry guests.  Alvirne Senior Rebecca Kovalcin, a second year Culinary Arts student, shared delicious cupcakes and some advice for future students.  “I was so scared as a freshman, I never thought about culinary at first.  But, I’m glad I looked into it more, because I love it.  I wish it were an all day class!  I’m planning to go to college for culinary.  I’ve learned so much, I want to go into baking, but I’ve also learned cooking skills and running the restaurant,” said Rebecca, enthusiastically.  Checkers Restaurant is open to the public Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Just outside of Checkers, juniors Tyler Noonan and Michael Giuffrida prepared samples of tortellini with three different sauces: meat, alfredo and vegetable varieties, which were very popular with the crowd.  “Culinary is like a family; we become really close,” said Tyler.

“We learn so much, and it is hard work, but it is two periods a day we really look forward to,” added Michael.

Julie Shea is the branch specialist of Alvirne’s Granite State Credit Union.  “The students learn about personal finance and budgeting.  Even shy students learn to come out of their shell by learning customer service.  I have a lot of students on the path to working in banking, but I also have students who want to someday own their own businesses,” said Shea.  The Alvirne Branch is open to the public, as well as students and staff, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

John Conrad has been teaching Building Trades at Alvirne for 13 years.  “Freshmen and sophomores take woodworking, where they learn to use tools.  That is a half-year class.  Building Trades is a two-year, all year course,” explained Conrad.  He had just been notified that day that students in Building Trades would be able to receive high school and college credit through the Running Start program of the Community College System of New Hampshire.

“I am proud to say that 13 out of our 15 programs either have dual enrollment college credit or advanced standing credit at colleges and universities,” said Judy King.

Another stop on the tours was the welding class.  David Anger teaches two class periods every morning before going to run his own business for the rest of the day.  “I enjoy giving back, it’s a lot of fun,” said Anger, a member of Alvirne’s Class of 1973.  David and Alvirne senior Justin Rodonis showed off the spotless welding room, which the students proudly keep clean and neat.

Alvirne junior Matthew McKinley was very busy at the Bronco Barn, the school store.  Here, they bake and normally sell Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, but that night they were giving out free samples.  “I highly recommend the marketing class, you learn a lot about business ethics, have the option to work in the store, and have a great teacher,” said McKinley.

Alvirne’s CTE programs prepare students to enter the workforce or continue their education with confidence and practical experience.  The CTE Open House gives future students the opportunity to learn what paths are available to them.  Career and Technical Education programs offered: Academy of Finance, Accounting, Digital Media, Marketing, Heavy Duty Mechanics, Building Trades, Veterinary Science, Forest and Wildlife Management, Horticultural Operations, Modern Agriculture, Project Lead the Way, Health, Science and Technology, Careers in Education, Culinary Arts, Drafting and Design.

For more information, visit and click CTE Center, or contact Judy King: or 886-1260, ext. 2568.