Old Colony ‘travels together’ into new school year

Aug 22, 2023

ROCHESTER — For Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School Superintendent Aaron Polansky, “the journey is sweeter” when parents, students and educators “travel together.”

And on Wednesday, Aug. 30, when a new class of 141 Cougars take their first steps into the halls of Old Colony, Polansky hopes that they will “treat people well, put rapport before reports, hold doors for visitors [and] pick up trash in the hallway — even if it isn't [theirs].”

“Our hope is that your growth will result in new opportunities,” said Polansky, addressing incoming freshmen. “Our hope is that you will take risks and that you will choose hard things. Try something new.”

This year, Old Colony is embarking on a journey of its own. Earlier this summer, voters from each of the schools’ five member towns allowed Old Colony to begin a feasibility study to look at the possibility of renovation or reconstruction.

Old Colony will put up $500,000 from its stabilization fund and take on $500,000 of debt to pay for the study. Towns were asked to pay for that debt over five years in amounts proportionate to their respective enrollments at Old Colony.

According to Polansky, Rochester will pay approximately $100,000. Mattapoisett, which is also a member of the Old Colony district, will pay approximately $49,000.

This would amount to approximately $20,000 per year for Rochester and slightly under $10,000 per year for Mattapoisett.

According to Polansky, Old Colony looks forward to an invitation into the feasibility study phase of the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s grant program on Aug. 30.

Additionally, said Polansky, “our hope is to work with staff, community, member towns and stakeholders to create a vision for what the future of what our Old Colony infrastructure may look like. We will have a heavy focus on creating our next district improvement plan as we make our way through the school year.”

According to Polansky, Old Colony will continue its focus on “student engagement and ongoing innovation tied to high expectations around rigorous and creative programming.”

He said this is done by providing students the opportunity for experience in “real world work” like the school’s cooperative employment program or through programming that allows for direct service to the school’s member communities, such as helping with Habitat for Humanity, the Cougars Den Restaurant, Locks Salon, graphic design, and automotive.

This year will also see the introduction of new academic programs such as environmental science, Advanced Placement environmental science and Advanced Placement pre calculus.

“Paint a picture of what you would like to aspire to and let us help you work diligently toward that goal,” said Polansky, addressing Old Colony students. “You can always change your mind, but nobody looks back and wishes they’d done less. Be intentional with your priorities and dream big — dream really big.”