The students at Worcester Vocational High School acquire a variety of skills in the course of their studies. But probably their biggest project is the high school itself. "Much of the repair work being done here over the years," says principal Anthony Prendergast, "is done by our teachers and kids as part of the curriculum."
Necessity is the mother of education. In Building C, Prendergast says, "conditions are from a hundred years ago. The floors are from a hundred years ago. The walls, the ceilings are from a hundred years ago."
But Worcester's voke high faces more than just a deteriorating building - the school's accreditation is disintegrating as well. "Out of all the categories that we're rated on by the New England Association," Prendergast says, "we passed with flying colors in all areas except one - facilities. It was fine in 1907 when it was built, but today we're headed toward 2007."
If the city has its way, though, there will be a new voke high by then. Worcester City Manager Thomas Hoover wants to build the new facility alongside Green Hill Park, which would lose roughly five acres to the project. But there's a hitch.
"It's a wetlands issue," Hoover says - specifically one of the park's vernal pools, low-lying areas that hold water several months out of the year and generate unique ecosystems. But, Hoover says, "we believe that we have protected all the identified wetlands in the area."
Not by a long shot, says Brian McCarthy of the Green Hill Park Coalition, which opposes the project. "From an environmantal standpoint we consider it a total disaster."
And so the Coalition has the project tied up in court over the vernal pool issue. But McCarthy admits that if it's not
one thing, it'll be another.
"If we could be satisfied that the vernal pool could be protected," he says, "the woodland would still go away and the park will get used somehow. So our opposition would remain."
What looks on the surface to be a case of the good guys versus the good guys, is really an immovable object versus an irrestible force.