WESTFORD -- Nashoba Valley Technical High School welcomed more than 500 prospective students, their parents and other community members interested in seeing what's happening at the school at its recent Open House.

Judging from the crowd, school officials are expecting next fall to see one of the largest freshman classes in many years.

"It was one of the most engaging, informative and well-attended open houses we've had in many years," Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz said. "And the large attendance indicates that, once again, we'll have one of the largest freshman classes ever next year."

Though currently seventh-graders, Noelle Wood and Brianna Flanagan, both of Shirley, said they came to Open House to get a look at Nashoba Tech, which they both hope to attend starting in fall 2015.

"I like that they don't just focus on academics but also let you experience what it's like to work in the field you choose," Brianna said. "I also like how they invite you in here as seventh- and eighth-graders, and not just have you come in as freshmen and not know what's going on. It gives you time to see what's here and to think about it."

While Brianna already has her program selection narrowed down to three -- cosmetology, early childhood education and culinary arts -- Noelle has set her sights solely on culinary arts.

"I like that they help you figure out what you want to do later in life," Noelle said. "I think it'd be fun to bake and cook and do stuff like that."

Jayna Hawkes, an eighth-grader from Chelmsford, said she hopes to enter Nashoba Tech next fall as a freshman.

"I feel like I'll get a lot more out of it," Jayna said, adding that she's thinking about entering either the health assisting, culinary arts or automotive collision repair & refinishing programs.

Connie Marinilli, an eighth-grader from Pepperell, is also hoping to attend Nashoba Tech next fall.

"I like hands-on learning," Connie said.

Kelly Marinilli, a graduate of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlboro, said she likes the idea that her daughter can "come away from high school with a career."

At Nashoba Tech, students spend the first five months of freshman year going through the "exploratory" process, spending a week in each of the school's 18 technical programs. At the end of exploratory, freshmen select the top three programs they would like to study, and they are then placed in a program.

From there on, students alternate weeks in their technical program and in academic study.

For the second consecutive year, Nashoba Tech was named a Level 1 school -- the highest level achievable -- based on its MCAS scores. None of the other high schools in Nashoba Tech's district, which includes, Ayer, Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford, is a Level 1 school.

Technical programs offered at Nashoba Tech include: automotive collision repair & refinishing; automotive technology; banking, marketing & retail; carpentry/cabinet making; cosmetology; culinary arts; dental assisting; design & visual communications; early childhood education; electrical technology; electronics/robotics; engineering technology; health assisting; hotel & restaurant management; machine tool technology; plumbing & heating; programming & Web development; and TV & media production/theatre arts.

Nashoba Tech also offers several Advanced Placement courses and School to Career, a cooperative-education program in which qualified upperclassmen can spend their technical week working full time in their chosen field.

For more information on Nashoba Tech, call 978-692-4711 or go to nashobatech.net.