By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
December 15, 2015
LEOMINSTER — Last summer, more than 100 students across the country took part in a rigorous computer-repair program sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America along with AT&T that culminated with two examinations.
Of the students who took the tests, only Michael LeBlanc, a senior at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, managed to pass both.
“It’s a little overwhelming, to be honest,” LeBlanc said. “I did not expect to be the only one out of who knows how many to pass.”
The Cisco A+ training and assistance program was offered to nine Boys & Girls Club locations across the country, including Sacramento, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Dallas. Between 10 and 20 students from each location participated in the program.
For 40 hours over the summer, 10 students from Fitchburg and Leominster schools took part in the training program, learning computer-system hardware and basic operating systems.
“It’s pretty in-depth,” said Mike Cipriani, an AT&T employee who has been collaborating with different Boys & Girls Club locations. “The book you have to read for this course is a full two inches thick.”
According to Cipriani, becoming certified as Cisco A+ is a qualification someone would need if he or she planned to enter the information-technology field.
Though unsure if he would want to work in IT, LeBlanc said he’s happy to have gone through the process nonetheless.
“In the first three years of high school, I definitely didn’t have to study that much to pass my tests, but these exams taught me I need to change that,” he said. “This whole experience has taught me to care a little more about being prepared.”
In recognition of his achievement, LeBlanc received a brand-new laptop on behalf of the Boys & Girls Club’s national offices.
“I’ve always known he was smart,” said Raeann LeBlanc, Michael’s mother. “He pretty much teaches himself. If he wants to learn how to do something, he’ll learn it.”
Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, said she’s pleased with the outcome and thinks the program will continue to be helpful for local students.
“This has been a great partnership so far,” Martin said. “We’ve also talked about running other similar programs in the future.”
In addition to continuing to work with AT&T to offer Cisco A+ training programs, Martin said the club will also participate in the Aspire Academy mentorship program, which partners club members with AT&T employees.
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