WESTFORD -- The latest project taken on by Carpentry students at Nashoba Valley Technical High School is built on a solid foundation of teamwork, trust and community service.

When instructor Jonathan Pryor's friend, Lt. Jay Martel of the Cambridge Fire Department, told him that city officials had given the police and fire departments control of an abandoned building and that he wanted to turn it into a place to hold training exercises, Pryor saw it as a perfect way to have students help.

"Jay wanted to have something done that would simulate a condo scenario for search-and-rescue operations," Pryor said.

All freshmen entering Nashoba Tech go through an exploratory process, spending a week in several of the school's 20 technical programs before narrowing down their desired programs to three and then eventually being placed into a program.

So Pryor, who has been overseeing freshmen going through the Carpentry program, decided to give the first-year students a chance to do some good while they were there.

He has them build the walls for the "condo" in the training building and then, because Cambridge is not in Nashoba Tech's district, the completed walls are sent to the Cambridge building, where students at the Rindge School of Technical Arts then install them.

"It's working out perfectly," Pryor said. "It's part of our wood-framing curriculum, so it's directly pertinent to what we do. And the work has been done almost 100 percent by freshmen during exploratory. It gives them something different to do that's given back to the community.


Since Nashoba Tech got involved, more law-enforcement agencies have heard about the effort and are offering their assistance so they can use the building for training exercises, too.

Because of all the support, the project isn't costing Nashoba Tech a dime.

"As more groups became aware of what we were doing, they wanted to be involved in it," Pryor said. "So now the Boston Police Department, Harvard and MIT have started funding the project as well so they can use the property for training. So we have all these different university and public-safety departments funding the lumber, and some of the lumber has been donated by Home Depot and other lumber yards."