Pinkerton Academy students garner national attention

Pinkerton Academy students garner national attention

Distracted driving is a societal problem and one that 3 students in Pinkerton Academy’s Video Production program tackled head on this past spring in their production of videos for The Community Alliance for Teen Safety.

Producing, shooting and editing a 30 second, 1 minute, and 90 second video versions, the students involved in the project were seniors Ryan Fuller, Jenelle Giordano, and Allison Patt. Along with screenings at local movie theaters, UNH hockey games, local TV and various events, their video, “Finish Your Story,” was nominated and won a “Student Award of Excellence” from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science. The trio also won a student Emmy from the New England Chapter and were nominated for a National Student Emmy by the Academy.

Expressing excitement at the their achievement, Christopher Lord, teacher of Video Production at Pinkerton Academy, said the students did a tremendous amount of work in creating the videos.

“We coordinated with Derry TV and Fire to act as talent and provide ambulances, fire trucks, and cruisers for our accident reenactment scene,” he said. “We hired a local makeup artist to do the gory post accident scenes and convinced a local junkyard to provide us with a couple smashed up cars to finish setting the scene.”

He said they even received some help from students in the culinary arts program. “They chopped us some onions to help a student actor to cry while telling the story of his accident,” he added.

For Lord, one of the highlights of the entire experience was watching the live student Emmys in class and seeing Jeopardy’s Alex Trebec announcing Pinkerton Academy as a nominee for best PSA.

He said another highlight was the quality of the students’ work, including pre-production elements, which helped to shape “ a different kind of distracted driving video.”

“The students surveyed classmates about what they found distracted them the most while driving,” he said. “This survey sent us in an unexpected direction beyond the obvious ‘texting while driving’ and instead found that other kids in the car did silly things, followed GPS systems, and searched songs on their I-Pods. [These things] were what students felt took their eyes and minds off the road the most.”

For Giordano, the entire project represented an incredible opportunity to collaborate with numerous people and entities outside of Pinkerton Academy. She said the biggest challenge was shooting the videos in 5 hours during which time all actors received their special effect makeup done, cars were flipped over and repositioned, and windshields were broken among other elements.

“Although the PSA is short, a lot of time and effort went into creating it,” she explained. “We spent weeks planning and organizing it…I can’t express how grateful I am for the experience. It was just a taste of what I hope my future holds.”

It is a future she believes Pinkerton Academy has helped shape.

“Joining video production at Pinkerton has shaped my future and nurtured my love for film,” she said. “Pinkerton’s video production classes have prepared me as much as they could for the future industry.”

Currently attending Santa Barbara City College online school, Giordano said she will be moving out to Los Angeles in January in hopes to start working in the tv/film industry in Hollywood.

“Chris Lord gave Allie, Ryan, and I so much opportunity with the films we created,” she said. “He believed in our films enough to enter them into many film festivals–and because of that, our resumes have been built up from all of our nominations and wins. I can’t thank Pinkerton Academy and Chris Lord enough for all they have done for me in preparing me for my future.”

To see the full PSA Version for Broadcast, click

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap

Sometimes, youth must think “tiny” in order to dream big, which is a metaphorical concept that will come to life for about 100 Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in the next 4 to 5 months. Representing 4 CTE centers from across NH, these students will build 5 “tiny” homes as part of a competition and workforce-development initiative developed by the New Hampshire Home Builders Association (NHHBA) and The New Hampshire Lottery.

According to NHHBA Business Development Director Scott Palmer, the initiative underscores a very real need in the workforce.

“The companies involved in this project all have this problem—there is too much work and not enough workers,” he said. “Having something like this that develops relationships with kids really appeals to everybody.”

The stakes are fairly high for the students, too, as the tiny homes must all be completed by March for the 50th annual New Hampshire State Home Show in Manchester. At the show, judges will declare the winning house, which will be won by the individual who comes in second place in “Tiny House Big Money,” a new scratch ticket game that begins in January. The winner will win $10,000, while the houses that do not win will be auctioned or raffled off with proceeds divided in several ways.

“When the houses sell, some of the funds will go to the schools and some will go to a local NHHBA chapter,” said Palmer. “Money will also go towards our Hammer for Veterans program, which provides professional home construction related services to veterans and their families…We hope we can make enough money to keep this tiny home building initiative going annually.”

As for what the students learn from participating in the program, NHHBA Member Al Lawrence, who owns Artisan Electrical Contractors and will donate his time to check the electrical work of all student teams, the initiative is important.

“It’s a real-life scenario where they can see everything that goes into building a home,” he said. “These homes may be tiny, but they need to be built like any other home…I am all for this project and look forward to doing whatever I can to mentor these students and hopefully help to spark their interest in a career in the trades.”

In directly connecting professionals from industry with the students, Palmer said it is their collective hope that the program can help “bridge a gap.”

“If we can get these kids to understand this is a good industry and that they can make a good living, that would be great,” he said.

Palmer said another outcome from the competition/initiative would be an enhanced understanding regarding the industry itself.

“It’s not just swinging a hammer—this is a very modern industry that is very technology focused,” he added. “It is incredible how homes are built and everything else that goes into it.”

For Lawrence, the project underscores a subtle point.

“We need to get kids excited about the trades,” he said. “It’s rapidly evolving and technology has changed many of the tools we use today. Whatever most people think about the trades, the reality is there is more room for growth than people realize. This tiny home initiative is as exciting for us already in the trades as it is for the kids.”

Participating students are from Alvirne High School in Hudson, the Huot Technical Center in Laconia, Kennett High School in North Conway and the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter.

To learn more about NHHBA, visit

In the “Middle”

In the “Middle”

Requiring education beyond that of high school but less than a 4-year college degree, middle-skill jobs make up the largest portion of the current labor market in the nation and in each of the 50 states. In fact, according to a report by the Harvard Business School, 69% of HR executives note that their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their firm’s performance.

In New Hampshire, these data points reveal only part of the reality behind what is often characterized as today’s “middle-skill gap.” According to the most recent National Skills Coalition analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, middle-skill jobs account for 54 percent of New Hampshire’s labor market, while just 43 percent of the state’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level.

“In the next ten years, there are going to be more jobs in this ‘middle area’ than in any other sector of the labor market,” said Steve Rothenberg, board president of the New Hampshire Career and Technical Administrators (NHCTA). “This is what makes Career and Technical Education (CTE) so important in New Hampshire—it fills a very real need now and in the future.”

Whereas the traditional conception of CTE programs is somewhat narrow, the reality is they are incredibly diverse. Offered at 30 high school Centers across the state, current CTE programs range from construction, automotive technology and welding to graphic design, health professions, accounting, business, child development and information technology.

Lisa Danley, director of the Cheshire Career Center in Keene, said that CTE is defined by its usefulness to industry.

“The programs we offer are aligned with college courses and programs and industry needs across the state,” she said. “Programs are not designed in a vacuum.”

Beth Doiron, director of College Access and DoE Programs at the Community College System of NH, agreed and said collaboration with the business sector is critical. “Everything taking place with the CTE sector is aligned with real needs in the labor market,” she added.

The Next ‘Gig’
Whereas the goal of Americans years ago may have centered on the idea that a great career consisted in working at one place of employment, such an aspiration is no longer the norm. With tens of millions of Americans involved in some form of freelancing, contracting, temping or outsourcing, the employment landscape is rapidly and radically changing.

According to a report by the Deloitte University Press, nearly half of executives surveyed expect to increase the use of “contingent workers” in the next three to five years. This concept of contingent workers is found within the overall larger concept of the “gig-based economy,” which is loosely defined as networks of people who work without formal employment agreements. Moreover, a gig economy is also seen as one in which an increased use of machines is expected.

“Gig-based” employment, which is really at the foundation of the gig-economy, is becoming a serious factor in making real change, especially within middle-skills job market,” said Doug Cullen, founding president of the Vermont/New Hampshire Career Development Association (VT/NH CDA). “It is a migration from the employee/employer understanding of shared security and shared growth to one that creates uncertainty and potentially a lack of loyalty for the employee base.”

Work-Based Learning
In response to the gig-based economy and a number of other related factors, Cullen said CTE has begun to move toward the utilization of work-based learning (WBL) initiatives more comprehensively in the career development process. As an example, he cited Vermont where legislation was just passed that supports WBL.

“It stipulates that Vermont high schools must have or contract with CTE centers for WBL services, which extends upon the services CTE Centers can offer to high schools,” he said. “In December of last year, the National Governor’s Association announced New Hampshire as one of 6 states in the U.S. selected to participate in the 2016 Policy Academy on Scaling Work-Based Learning.”

Noting there are currently more than 20 distinct projects in NH that surround WBL-related interventions for various aged learners, Cullen said these efforts support the concept of ready-for-work and ready-for-college.

“Whether it is an apprenticeship, mentoring or internships, WBL initiatives are important in that they extend the classroom into the workplace and connect acquired knowledge and skills to a student‘s future employment,” he said. “WBL is what we need to help tomorrow’s workforce begin to develop the middle skills they will need today.”

Constructing a Brighter Future

Constructing a Brighter Future

Promoting the construction industry to New Hampshire youth, the 2016 New Hampshire Construction Career Days event will take place at the Hillsborough County Youth Foundation Center in New Boston on Thursday and Friday, September 22 and 23. In total, more than 50 schools and 1,600 high school students are registered for the event, which has quadrupled in size since it was first held in 2009.

Noting the event is open to both male and female high school students, Catherine Schoenenberger, president of Stay Safe Traffic Products, Inc., one of several major event sponsors, said one goal is to increase the attendance of women and minorities.

“We want to encourage more women in construction,” said Schoenenberger, who is also president elect of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). “Women currently make up less than 10 percent in the industry. While women make less than men for the same work—and we are working on that—you can make very good money in construction and it is not going away.”

Resulting from the collaborative efforts of labor unions, construction companies, school districts, state agencies, trade and professional organizations, the event will feature more than 70 exhibitors. Areas of focus will include careers in heavy equipment, welding, plumbing, carpentry, electrical wiring, surveying and engineering, land clearing, underground utilities, and other construction related jobs. Students will also learn about various secondary educational resources, apprenticeship programs and career training pathways available after high school.

“These kids are involved and engaged at every single booth,” Schoenenberger said. “There are all kinds of challenges throughout the day, and kids can really get the sense they ‘[they] can do this.’”

Students also walk away with a comprehensive career book that details expected wages from each job, educational pre-requisites, and where they will be at the end of an apprenticeship. According to Tracy Untiet, assistant director, Career & Technical Education at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, said they find substantial value in having their students attend the event.

“Students have an opportunity to meet professionals in dozens of Construction related fields as well as trying a variety of tools and equipment that are not often available at school,” she said. “Examples are dump trucks, back hoes, climbing utility poles and rapling trees, and using electrical, welding and construction tools.”

In total, Untiet said they generally bring 100 students each year out of whom roughly 15 to 20 are female.

Having served as president of NH Construction Career Days, a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit that raises private funds and donations to run the event, Schoenenberger said she is excited at its continued growth.

“NH Chronicle will be here on Thursday and Governors Lynch and Hassan have both attended,” she said. “It’s an event where companies see the value, too, as they expend a lot of resources and personnel. Between their efforts and our sponsors, the event continues to expand. It’s great to see and very rewarding.”

To learn more about the event, visit To leanr more about NAWIC, visit