Alvirne High School’s Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center’s Legacy Continues for Future Generations

August 16, 2919


by Doug Robinson

The two touching shovels stood side by side on the dais, symbolic of both the past and of the future.  One shovel was engraved Alvirne Technical Center, May 3, 1991, representing the legacy of the past, and the second shovel was engraved CTE Groundbreaking Ceremony August 7, 2019, representing a newer legacy of the future to come.

In front of the two shovels, members of the SAU Administration, Hudson School Board, Hudson Board of Selectmen, Building Committee members, NH State Representatives, and Alvirne High School teachers were in attendance for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Alvirne High School Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center.

Since 1991, the rounded silver shovel has been displayed and encased in the lobby of the present Wilbur H. Palmer Technical and Career Center as a testament to not only the original groundbreaking of the CTE but also as a tribute to the educational vision of Wilbur H. Palmer.

On Aug. 8, nearly 30 years later, that vision took its next step to propel his dream to provide future generations with an education, with unparalleled educational excellence not offered anywhere in New Hampshire, but anywhere in the United States.

AHS Principal Steven Beals said the new “Career & Technical Education Center (will continue to focus) on work-based learning for high school students.”

Beals stated, regarding the voter approved project, “No project of this magnitude, simply put, is the largest financial project in the Hudson town history, and is not doable without solid business partners.”

Approaching nearly $25 million, the project will take several years to complete.

Building Committee member Diana Lamothe thanked the “many volunteers, the employees, the administrative staff, the great leadership that we have here in Hudson, and the taxpayers of the community which made the renovation expansion possible. It is really for our children.

“We are doing this for all of the children.  I like to call our CTE a hidden gem in New Hampshire.  It is the largest center in the state.  Students are bused in from other towns to Hudson.  That is something to be proud of.  I also love that career and technical education centers are now being properly described as ‘not just for the trades.’  Our CTE does a great job with aligning future job demands but many are also learning that the CTE centers are very effective in preparing students for post-secondary education.“

Hudson~Litchfield NewsOwner/Publisher Len Lathrop said, “As a community partner this is such a powerful project.  This project was divided in the beginning and there are still some projects on the drawing board that the Renovation Committee is looking at. This is a wonderful project. Being involved has been very exciting. We learned what a great school and great schools make great communities.

Lathrop continued by quoting the National Education Association, “When schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in a higher-level program.  I think this is the grass roots which start the 21st century learning for our students in a 21st century building.”

In welcoming Marge Palmer, spouse of Wilbur “Webb” Palmer, to the podium, Beals said, “Marge has been a staunch supporter of not only his work, his vision, and certainly education in general.”

Beals presented Marge with pictures from the original groundbreaking in which Webb was at, and he also presented Marge with the original shovel which her husband used.

“The shovel that Webb used is the shovel that I will let you use to dig the dirt with me tonight.  [It is] a special memento of this celebration we have.  No part of Webb isn’t present with us this evening.  His legacy will live on.  His legacy will live on.  It will be our honor to have you dig the dirt with us tonight with his shovel.”

He continued, “In addition, as a lasting legacy, we felt it was incredibly important to ensure that the outside of the new center is dedicated with the remembrance in memory of Wilbur Palmer.  So while the day on it says 2019, this will be embedded into the building near the CTE main entrance.  Parents, visitors, sending school students, as well as Hudson students will have the opportunity to walk by with names on the signs, but with a special granite plate that we offer to Webb’s memory.

Marge spoke saying “My late husband had a dream which took years to accomplish and was a labor of love.  Employed by the Hudson School District for 38 years, for over 20 of those years Webb worked on the plans and the funding to bring to fruition his dream of expanded vocational educational opportunities for Alvirne students through hands-on experiences.

“He wrote a grant to the State Department of Education, legislation was written, and the bill to provide $6.3 million for construction of the vocational center passed in Concord.  The town of Hudson, by unanimous vote, named the facility the Wilbur H. Palmer Vocational Technical Center in honor of his dedication to Hudson students.

“Although its name has changed from (Wilbur H. Palmer) Vocational Technical Center to the Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center its mission remains the same, service Alvirne students.  May Webb’s passion for expanded vocational opportunities continue with the opportunities that this new center will provide.  He sought God’s guidance in his planning and may God continue to bless your efforts as well.”