WESTFORD -- Nearly 300 students and parents toured Nashoba Valley Technical High School at the school's recent open house, where they saw what the school has to offer, talked to the teachers -- and got to see a professional singer perform two mini-concerts.
James Massone, a finalist on Season 2 of the "The Voice," sang in the Performing Arts Center, accompanied by guitarist Shuhei Teshima.
Massone, 23, is from Wakefield and, having worked in his father's auto-body shop, was happy to talk to kids about the value of a technical education. After each performance, Massone signed autographs and had his picture taken with anyone who wanted one.
Former New England Patriots offensive tackle Max Lane was also on hand to meet with students and sign autographs in the gymnasium
When they weren't posing for pictures with Massone and Lane, local middle-schoolers and their parents got close-up looks at Nashoba Tech's 18 technical programs and talked to teachers on both the academic and technical sides.
While some middle-schoolers were still on the fence about what high school to attend, others appeared ready to make their minds up on the spot.
"It's pretty good here. I like that you get more hands-on experience," said eighth-grader Anthony Oliveira of Lowell.
Angela Constantine, a seventh-grader from Westford, took a summer class at the Marcus Lewis Day Camp at Devens with Nashoba Tech Chef-Instructor Steve Whiting, and she came to say hello to him at open house. Though Angela still has time to decide what high school to attend, Nashoba Tech appears to have the edge.
"Cooking is my favorite thing to do, so I'm definitely thinking about coming here for culinary arts," Angela said.
Others who attended the open house were impressed with the variety of technical programs the school has to offer. In addition to traditional vocational programs, such as plumbing and heating, automotive technology and electrical technology, Nashoba Tech offers such programs as TV and media production/theatre arts, early childhood education, dental assisting, and banking, marketing and retail.
Celeste Beek of Pepperell was on hand with her son, Spencer, a seventh-grader who is already thinking ahead to high school.
"We've been going to lots of high schools and checking out what they have to offer," Beek said. "We didn't realize all the different types of programs they have here, the diversity of the programs."
Other technical programs at Nashoba Tech include: automotive collision repair and refinishing; carpentry/cabinet making; cosmetology; culinary arts; design and visual communications; electronics/robotics; engineering technology; health assisting; hotel and restaurant management; machine tool technology; and programming and Web development.
Nashoba Tech also offers a full slate of academic courses, including honors and Advanced Placement, as well as Dual Enrollment, a School to Career program, MCAS preparation, and many other programs.
Nashoba Tech's district includes Ayer, Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford, though a limited number of students are allowed from outside the district through school choice. For information on enrolling, call 978-692-4711 or visit www.nashobatech.net.