HOULTON, Maine — When it comes to selecting holiday decorations, the students at the Region Two School of Applied Technology have looked inward for inspiration.
One simply has to stroll down the halls of the Houlton Career and Technical Education Center to see that handiwork first hand.
“Our programs were tasked with creating displays that match their programming,” said Rachael Upton, program coordinator for Region Two. “Those students whose display is chosen as the winner receive a pizza party.”
Funds for the prizes came from a MELMAC grant, with the intent of having students focus more intently on their career paths, Upton said.
Maggie Crowley, a Region Two student, said some of the prizes students could win were $20 gasoline gift cards. “Most of the prizes have to do with kids’ working on the college pathway,” she said.
Students also could enter raffles for prizes based on how many college preparedness events they have completed — such as applying to a college and filling out a FAFSA financial aid form.
With students involved in 11 different courses at the regional Career and Technical Education Center, the displays featured in the school’s hallway are as varied as they are creative. Displays ranged from Christmas cakes baked by culinary students to a sleigh constructed of used auto body parts by the students in the autobody program.
The 11 programs offered at the school are: EMT, culinary, welding, law enforcement, electrical, automotive, auto collision, early childhood education, forestry, and two health occupation programs.
Each program had a month to come up with their festive displays.
Brody McLaughlin and Nick Hardy, two of the culinary arts students who came up with the edible display, said they drew inspiration for their project from the Festival of Trees event held in November.
“We really drew our inspiration from the Festival of Trees so we wanted to make a Culinary Festival of Trees,” McLaughlin said.
“We spent the past two weeks baking and getting it all ready,” Hardy said.
Aside from homemade gingerbread trees, the culinary arts students also baked a five-layer cake, created a marshmallow and Fruity Pebble tree and made stars by melting Jolly Rancher candies into cookie cutters to create a stained glass effect.
The MELMAC Education Foundation was established Jan. 1, 2001, as Maine’s newest and largest foundation dedicated to advancing the cause of education for all Maine residents. It came about when the Maine Educational Loan Marketing Corporation (MELMAC) was converted from a private non-profit secondary market for student loans into a for-profit entity on Dec. 31, 2000.