Assistant Superintendent-Director/Principal Anthony Steele served up some fresh watermelon and corn on the cob at this year’s Blackstone Valley Tech Freshmen Barbecue. Steele was one of many administrators, teachers, and support staff volunteering their time to give a warm welcome to new students and families. This year’s incoming class of 310 students is the largest in the school’s history.
UPTON – The annual Freshmen Barbecue on August 14 required a few extra hamburgers and hot dogs, as Blackstone Valley Tech welcomed the largest freshmen class in the school’s history.
In recent years, space constraints have limited new seats at Valley Tech to 300 spots, despite an annual applicant pool of more than 800 area eighth graders. This year, in anticipation of a program expansion, the number of incoming freshmen was slightly increased to 310 new students.
The record-setting classmates were introduced to their new school during the Freshmen Barbecue, which is held every year as a fun and stress-free way for new students and families to kick off the school year. In addition to a hot meal and a warm welcome, parents and guardians were given the chance to fill out paper work, sign permission forms, and study the school year’s bus schedule. Among the hundreds of parents in attendance was Ted Ruscitti of Milford, who said he encouraged his son to apply to BVT after attending last year’s open house.
“I was very encouraged by the level of enthusiasm from students and staff,” Ruscitti said. “There was a great interest in learning.”
Each year, the Freshmen Barbecue sets the tone for the total Valley Tech experience by providing visitors and new students a first-hand look at the impressive volunteerism of administrators, teachers, and support staff. The adults’ example is followed by Valley Tech’s student groups and clubs, many of which attend the event to offer their support and advice to incoming students. This year, the Friends of Rachel Club brought new parents and students into the charitable mix by encouraging them to bring donations of canned goods to benefit the Milford Food Bank.
The largest class in BVT history is also one of the most enthusiastic, according to Director of School Counseling Beth Hennessy, who said the incoming freshmen are eager to take advantage of Valley Tech’s numerous programs and extracurricular activities.
“This is a highly energized class,” Hennessy said. “They couldn’t wait for things to start.”
Classes for all four grades officially began on August 18, making BVT the first public school in Massachusetts to start the school year. Since 1997, BVT has voluntarily operated under an extended school year calendar of 193 teaching-days.