South Shore students provide technical assistance

Owen Dillon plating a quesadilla at the Cushing Café

For three seniors at South Shore Technical High School, the experience-based learning opportunities at Cardinal Cushing Centers have been transformative.

The students, Luke Coughlin, Owen Dillon, and Nick Locke, alternate between academic weeks and shop weeks, spending their co-op days at Cushing.

Coughlin and Dillon have been working at the Cushing Café since November, under the supervision of manager Maren Geloran. Coughlin has been posted at the front of the café, greeting customers, taking orders, making coffee, and more.

“He’s in the machine shop at South Shore, but he was looking for social skills training,” said Geloran. “His self-confidence has really grown.”

Dillon, who is in the culinary arts program, is working the grill, prepping food, and making sandwiches.

“I was so impressed when he came in for his interview and he took a menu home right away to prepare,” said Geloran. “He’s really been able to grow his work skills in the kitchen and get a feel for the day-to-day in the restaurant industry. And they’re both learning time management skills that are preparing them for the next level.”

The South Shore Tech students have been working hand-in-hand with Cushing students and adults in the café. There are currently five Cushing adult participants, as well as two classrooms of vocational students that are training in the café.

“They all enjoy the interaction with each other,” said Geloran. “It’s always fun to work with new people, and it fits the mission of changing lives by partnering with another school or organization. It’s part of what we’re meant to be doing.”

“We appreciate the opportunities Cardinal Cushing Centers has offered our interns and cooperative education students,” said Bob Mello, director of off-campus education and special projects at South Shore Technical High School. “As a vocational school, we rely on local businesses to help give our students real-world work experience. Not only are they getting hands-on experience in their trade at Cushing, they are able to get that experience within an organization whose work is meaningful and impactful.”

Locke, who is in the design and visual communications program, is skilled in graphic design software, as well as print shop production equipment. Since February, he has been putting his skills to work with Randy Wiskow, Cushing’s manager of art enrichment and community engagement.

“Knowing the great work the interns were doing in the café, we knew we needed some help in graphics to support the MarketPlace,” said Wiskow. “South Shore Tech has such a wonderful program. They got us in touch with Nick.”

“The school did a mass mailing postcard for us when the café started opening at 7 a.m., and the quality of the work was absolutely spot-on,” said Cushing’s sustainability coordinator Eleanor Arpino. “It was top quality, professional work. We were thrilled to get someone from that shop in.”

Thus far, Locke has created flyers for art shows in the community and is in the process of creating tags for more than 100 pieces of art for a show in July. He will also be working on creating tags for items and displays in the MarketPlace shops and will be assisting Arpino with some design work in the Greenhouse.

An Eagle Scout, Locke’s interest in design began when he earned his graphic arts merit badge. He has continued to succeed in the shop and participated in SkillsUSA Massachusetts local competitions.

In addition to Coughlin, Dillon, and Locke, Cushing also hosts two students from South Shore Tech’s allied health programs. That partnership began two years ago with co-op students working with participants in Cushing’s Life Opportunities Unlimited day habilitation program.

“Cardinal Cushing offers opportunities across many of the programs we offer, so we’ve been able to establish a true partnership which we hope will be mutually beneficial for years to come,” said Mello. “As employers, they understand the mission of our program and make their workplace an extension of our classroom. They invest in the success of our students.”

In turn, South Shore Tech has been able to offer the skills of some of its programs as well. Its culinary arts department had the opportunity to hold a cooking class at Cushing, and the school hosted a shadow day in its automotive technology department. Students in the carpentry program built a footbridge to assist Cushing students in accessing a ropes course.

“We will continue to look for ways to assist Cardinal Cushing in the important work they do for their students and residents,” said Mello. “We’re excited to explore the many possibilities of this partnership.”

About Cushing Centers

Since 1947, Cushing's caring community has been a place where exceptional individuals of all ages and abilities have found possibility, opportunity, and hope, receiving support to achieve independence and meaningful relationships across home, work, school, and leisure.

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