Tri-County Turns 40!

J.D. O’Gara
School Celebrates with Fundraising Bash for New Tri-County Education Foundation
Robotics, a popular endeavor for Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School students, is one example of student enrichment that the new Tri-County Education Foundation might support. A fundraising gala on April 7th celebrating the school’s 40th birthday will raise funds for the new nonprofit. Photo used courtesy of Tri-County.
Issue Date: 
April, 2018
Article Body: 

Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School turns 40 this year. What better way to celebrate than with a fundraising gala for its new foundation, the Tri-County Education Foundation? On Saturday, April 7th, friends, community partners and alumni of the vocational school, which educates over 1,000 students from 11 district towns, are invited to celebrate with a 40th Anniversary Celebration & Benefit, taking place at the school from 6-9 p.m. The fundraising event, a donation of $75 per person, will include tours of the school’s vocational shops, a walk down memory lane with some past faculty, hors d’oeurves prepared by Tri-County students and a cash bar, as well as musical entertainment.
“We’re really hoping to get alumni to come to the event,” says Tri-County Marketing and Public Relations manager Jodie Lushka.
One of those alumni includes Tri-County’s own Chef Instructor, Nancy Haney, a member of the first graduating class of Tri-County. A resident of Medfield as a student, she enjoyed splitting academics with vocational studies, and her experience at the school led her to Johnson & Wales in Providence, and ultimately, after other restaurant experience, to her position teaching at the school.
“I’ve been here 20 years,” says Haney, who also spearheaded a garden on school grounds, what she calls her “happy place,” that benefits local food pantries, as well as teaches local recreation department kids’ cooking classes in summer, “I love my job. I love being with the kids. I love teaching. I love to cook, so put them together, it was awesome.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit the newly created Tri-County Education Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to enriching and enhancing educational opportunities for more than 1,000 students from eleven towns within our district. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization administered by an 8-member Board of Directors comprised of area business, finance, and education leaders.
“We’re trying to enhance the kids experience here,” says Tri-County’s Superintendent Stephen Dockray. “I think, as you can look around, practically every school district today has a foundation. Part of reason is the state has cut back. While our budgets continue to grow, the funding for them continues to shrink.” The Foundation, says Dockray, can help fund special incentives such as the very popular Robotics Club and Skills USA, as well as teacher innovations.
“The money is meant to be spent on the kids,” says Dockray, an ex officio member of the nonprofit group. Dockray explains that interest in setting up the foundation began before his tenure as a superintendent, but when he attended conference, he happened upon a consultant with experience setting up this sort of foundation.
The Foundation is a separate entity from Tri-County RVTHS, but shares the vision of providing and supporting both academic and vocational opportunities to benefit every student.
“The goal of the foundation is to provide funding for sources that aren’t there – for student travel to state and national conventions, provide money for equipment, some opportunities like that, where it would benefit the school if they have that funding but they don’t have it in their budget. It would provide the school with a better learning environment,” says Christopher Ward, President of the Tri-County Education Foundation and 1983 graduate of the school’s carpentry program. “We hope to financially support academic and vocational projects and to provide student scholarships that Tri-County RVTHS cannot financially back due of limited funding or state law.”
Dockray explains that the Foundation may be a funding source for a piece of equipment that a teacher in a vocational shop wants to purchase, “maybe something in clean energy or carpentry, something like that,” the cost of travel to a robotics competition, the costs of AP competitions, or such extra costs as one the school faced a few years ago, when the cheerleaders went to a national competition in Florida.
The monetary funds the Foundation receives to support these academic and vocational projects will come solely from tax deductible donations, memorial gifts, and various fundraising activities that will take place within the community. So far, says Dockray, Rockland Trust stepped up as a major donor of $1,000 to the Foundation, and another major donor had come forward. In addition to the 40th Anniversary event, the Foundation is also holding a brick sale for individuals to help support the cause. Commemorative bricks will line a walkway outside the school and can be purchased to remember students, faculty, graduating classes, businesses and more. Bricks can be purchased at
The Foundation is currently seeking sponsorships within the community for financial support and commitment to the Tri-County community. Those organizations who would like to inquire about becoming a Tri-County Education Foundation sponsor, please go to the website at:
Active board members of the Tri-County Education Foundation are volunteers, and Ward says the group is looking for other volunteers to help. “It’s an initiative whose time has come,” says Ward. “A way for the school to get support for the community, parents and businesses.”