Plumbing Shop Receives Certification

Two-story apartments under construction in the plumbing shop Photo by: Samantha Lamar

Two-story apartments under construction in the plumbing shop.
Photo by: Samantha Lamar

By: Samantha Lamar and Alyssa Campbell

This year, the plumbing shop at Attleboro High School (AHS) took a huge step, becoming more respected and officially a part of Chapter 74, the state requirement of all shops and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The plumbing shop also became a certified shop after two years of an application process.

“It’s such a great accomplishment because of the fact that it normally takes three to five years, and we were able to pull it off in less than two. It shows that we worked hard to get the certification. I feel a lot better now because there was a lot of pressure on everybody to get the certification.

“I worked on the weekends, nights, during vacations, and during the summer to get all the paperwork done. Now that it’s over with, I can focus my energy on different things. That’s a great weight off of all of us,” said plumbing instructor Mr. Vin Levine.

Levine is a master plumber who became an AHS teacher two years ago. The workshop that welcomed him provided quite a challenge, as did the entire process of becoming certified.

“It’s actually grueling; it takes quite a while to do it. There are three parts to it. First was the application portion. We have to submit an application that has the entire curriculum and the syllabi, lesson plans, unit plans, safety plans, applications, everything, complete.

“The second part of it is the physical layout of the shop. It has to be safe, so it took a lot of work, and we had to build tables, water heater displays, and toilet displays. The third part was our meeting with the representative from the state advisory board, who helped us do everything we could to make the shop a better place,” Levine said.

Chapter 74 is a program that gives students in the plumbing shop at AHS the opportunity to collect hours of plumbing to use toward getting a license. In becoming certified, the shop is now fully a part of Chapter 74.

“We had to set up a shop that people could work in and prove to the state that we had enough tools, materials, and work stations so we could actually teach plumbing here. They come in and do a safety inspection. They’re also looking at the shop visually to see if we have what we need to run a plumbing shop.

“We have high visibility yellow paint on the poles and we’ve got safety signs on there pointing to the emergency switches. We’ve got volt tags on it telling us how many volts there are that say, ‘caution, do not touch,’ and signs on certain doors that say, ‘notice; not an exit,’ so no one goes looking for a way out of the building and gets stuck in there,” he explained.

Levine described the shop before he and all the volunteers worked on it. Before his first day, it was a sort of junkyard for teachers in the school.

“When I first came here to look at the shop, they referred to it as the ‘graveyard.’ The graveyard had anybody’s old desks, chairs, filing cabinets, computers, fluorescent light bulbs, you name it. They would leave it here and it was okay; it was like a dump, and when I started, it was all supposed to be cleaned out by day one. I showed up, and it wasn’t. So what I did was, I rolled up my sleeves and took everything from one side and pushed it to the other side,” Levine said.

The process of cleaning the plumbing shop has been long for Levine, but now, his latest project has room to be displayed. Levine had the idea to create two story apartments inside the shop to give his plumbers a hands-on experience in working in homes.

“In December we started building the second story apartments, and that’s been strictly a volunteer build until we involved our carpenters who installed the barn beam and the landing. It was a real team effort with a lot of really consistent volunteers. Once we finish up our two story apartments, each student is going to work in teams of two and they’re going to be putting in full bathrooms and full gas piping jobs inside the apartments,” said Levine.

“I volunteered personally, a hundred hours of my time building the plumbing shop. I brought my uncle Mike Tyler, Attleboro Public Schools’ school committee member, in here and I said, ‘I like this shop and I want to see it through to the end.’ He came in and he helped us build this,” said AHS plumbing junior Jonathan Marston.

Levine is a proud part of the plumbing profession and aims to inspire and help students at AHS to become plumbers and gain stature in the work field.

Marston said, “Mr. Levine gave a speech and this shop means so much to him. When he started mentioning my uncle, he started to cry because of how passionate he is. He literally put blood sweat and tears into this to get it going. He’s a great leader. I couldn’t ask for a better instructor. He just wants to see people go into the trade. He wants us to have a better life than we do. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing.”

Levine is not only passionate about the project, but also the field. His genuine love for plumbing shows in the amount of time and effort he personally gave to the project.

“Plumbing is unlike some professions. You can ship machine work overseas and have it done there cheaper than in this country. A lot of jobs got shipped overseas. Plumbing is different because you have to call a plumber, and a person will come to your house and fix whatever problem you have.

“You can’t ship your heating system out to be fixed; you have to have someone come in and do it. It’s a profession that’s been around a long time now, and it’s here to stay. We don’t have enough young professionals in this business and it’s a great way to earn a living. We have a plumbing shop so kids in Attleboro can learn the trade,” said Levine.

“Plumbing is a good trade to get into. Not a lot of people know how to do it. There’s a lot of opportunity, which is promising and it’s fun,” said AHS plumbing sophomore Chad Wiegand.

Levine’s progress made in this project in the span of two years coincides nicely with the time he will have level three students looking for opportunities in plumbing with more complicated and advanced projects, something the apartments will be useful for.

“This year I had exploratory, level one and two and then next year I will be having level three as well. This year will be my first year of being a full-time employee at AHS,” Levine said.

The creation of the two-story apartments and the certification of the plumbing shop is only the beginning. Levine is very grateful for all of the community support that helped make his dream come true and the plumbing shop a successful part of Chapter 74.

Wiegand said, “Mr. Levine actually cares about the students; he’s not just showing off. He motivates us to work hard. He actually cares that we know how to do it and do it right.”

Levine’s work and his students’ work have in the long run made for a change they are proud of. This change will be a physical reminder for years to come of all they have done for the program.

Levine said, “We’d like to thank everybody who supported this program on the way up. It’s very easy to become discouraged with the program. We’ve had a lot of community support of having the plumbing shop at AHS. When we made the decision, we had level one students who were very interested, and their parents were very interested. I think the community was very supportive of the idea. Everybody wants to know a plumber.”