Old Colony to get new lobby look

Jun 7, 2019

ROCHESTER — Superintendent-Director, Aaron Polansky plans to bring Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School into the 21st century with a student-designed and remodeled front lobby.

Polansky compared the previous brick wall lobby to an old television show saying it was, interesting but outdated. “What can we do to make sure that when you walk into the front lobby it’s a little less Brady Bunch, and a little more modern?” He asked.

Students and instructors in five different technical programs at Old Colony worked together to answer his question. The resulting lobby was designed by Lauren Patnaude, a 2019 graduate of the computer aided design program. Members of the carpentry, electrical, metal fabrication and joining, and graphic design programs have teamed up to turn Patnaude’s vision into reality.

Although the vast majority of work was done by students and faculty, an outside engineer was hired to provide an assessment of the project, to avoid a conflict of interest.

Students and instructors began their renovations at the end of February this year. So far they have installed drywall, added outlets, and built the new lobby’s centerpiece, an aluminum soffit measuring eight feet in diameter that will hold four lights in the center of the ceiling.

Members of the graphic design program will decorate the soffit, and imprint the school’s logo on the lobby floor to finish the renovation process.

The updated lobby will have a flat screen TV with laptop compatibility for instructors. It will function as both a learning environment and first impression for people entering the school. Equipped with new furniture, Polansky said, the lobby will feel more like a coffee shop than an industrial work space.

The project was a labor of love for Electrical Instructor, Eddy Cabral. The class of 1988 graduate said he wished he could have done more, and that he would have extended the renovations all the way down the main hallway if he could.

It was his idea to install outlets at intervals of a few feet so that students will be able to charge their phones and other devices while they study.

Cabral said the students’ work is as good as an outside job, and that the experience they gained from the renovation is an invaluable asset to their education.

Polansky said the reward for students was in the outcome. Not many students get to walk into a school and say “hey, I built that,” he added.

Lucas Olivier oversaw the construction of the aluminum soffit. The Metal Fabrication and Joining Technology instructor is also an Old Colony alum who graduated in the class of 2000. He estimates that the soffit weighs about 180 lbs, and its materials cost about $2,000.

Sophomore Anthony Wolff said he learned how to take measurements and fit pieces together in the process of welding and tube rolling. Wolff said he will be able to enjoy the project more than some of the other student builders because he is a sophomore. 

Polansky said his goal is for the renovation to be completed by July.