Westfield Technical Academy seniors who helped build the house at 64 Mill St., Westfield, helped cut the ribbon to open it on April 30.

Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

WESTFIELD — At the ribbon cutting for the new home at 64 Mill St. built by students of Westfield Technical Academy, Matthew Gomes, head of the construction technology department, took a few minutes to acknowledge the hard work of students in the construction technology, electrical wiring and horticulture technology departments.

He also acknowledged the vision of Westfield Technical Academy Foundation, the Polish National Credit Union for funding the loan at 0% interest, and the multiple other sponsors who donated thousands of dollars of materials and financial support, for making the project possible.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” said Gomes. He said students were on site for the land survey, excavation and concrete foundation, framed every bit of the entire house, and installed the windows and siding.

He said students formed and placed the concrete sidewalk and driveway. Students installed the finishes and millwork after watching the insulation and drywall come together.

Polish National Credit Union Executive Vice President Michael Sugrue, left, and Assistant Vice President Martha Rickson stand with Westfield School Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski at the ribbon cutting.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

Students in the newly approved Chapter 74 cabinetmaking program planned, fabricated and installed all of the cabinetry and custom millwork in the house, including all of the kitchen cabinetry, bathroom vanities and mudroom.

The electrical wiring students completed all the electrical work, and horticulture technology students designed and installed the hardscape and landscape, bringing the exterior to another level with the patio, walkway and plantings not typically found in a new home construction.

“The experience of building a house from start to finish cannot be duplicated in a classroom setting back at the school,” Gomes said.

Gomes said the project would not have been possible without the support of the Westfield Technical Academy Foundation and its board of directors, and with the guidance of the school’s Program Advisory Committee.

“Please know that this project and all of the work of the Westfield Technical Academy is led by volunteers. 100% of the proceeds from this project will go to providing support for our students. Nobody involved in administering the nonprofit is paid,” Gomes said.

WTA Foundation President Joseph Tremblay said for him, “to see the kids get an opportunity of this scale, that’s what it’s all about.” He said the students now have a full house build on their resumes.

“It’s a dream come true; something we’ve talked about for years,” said Gomes.

Tremblay and his wife Alexandra own Tremblay Maison in Longmeadow, an interior design, decor and home furnishings company. Alexandra Tremblay, who was not present at the ribbon-cutting, donated her interior design services to the project, overseeing the selection of light fixtures and other features. 

A few weeks before the grand opening, the WTA Foundation invited local real estate agents to tour the house. Within a few days it was under contract, although Tremblay said the price could not be disclosed until the sale closes later this month.

Tremblay said well over 100 agents came to the open house.

“At the time of sale, this was the only new house on the market in Westfield.”

Tremblay said construction items not donated for the home build were able to be purchased with the 0% loan from PNCU. Once sold, the proceeds will go to the Westfield Technical Academy, earmarked for the construction department. He said now they’re “on the hunt for more land.”

Construction Tech instructor Brian Roy stands with with seniors, in back, Vincent Orlandi, Thomas Drewnowski and Nathan Fontaine, and, in front, Devlin Bowersfont and Emily Cortis.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

Tremblay said the WTA Foundation is ready to partner with any department in the school that wants to use it. He said a couple of departments have approached him with ideas.

Construction tech seniors who were on hand for the open house were themselves impressed with the work they had done, calling it “amazing” and “really outstanding.”

At the end of his remarks, Gomes said the students were the greatest example of teamwork on the project.

“Our students did the work here. This home you are standing in was built by students. Teenagers. Students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade. When you stop to think, it’s truly remarkable.

“Reflecting on this project fills my heart with hope and promise. It can be difficult today to see through all the negativity and conflict — but here, at 64 Mill St. in Westfield, know that you can find evidence of the next generation of leaders and doers. And at the Westfield Technical Academy you will find a dedicated team of students and teachers ready to take on the challenge,” Gomes said.

Sponsors for the project included American Floor Covering, Caesarstone, Chelsea Building Products, DeWalt, Huber/Advantech, Zip System, Keller Williams — Shanna Rowe, National Vinyl, Wright Architectural Millwork, Polish National Credit Union, Kelly Fradet, Boise Cascade, the Erickson family, Frank Webb Home, F.W. Webb, Lucky Sevens Carpet, New England Energy Raters, Rosati, Clean Restrooms, Dalessio Overhead Door, Ondrick Natural Earth, R. Levesque Associates, R.J. Sanding, Schluter Systems, 7 Roads Media, Simpson Strong Tie, Trex, FastenMaster, Sherwin Williams and Westfield Gas & Electric.

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