Monday December 3, 2012

DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

ARLINGTON -- Dr. C. Kirk Osterland had a long career in medical research, but now retired he has little need for a number of the pieces of equipment from his laboratory.

Looking to unload some of those tools on someone who will put them to good use, Osterland, a Manchester resident, was led to the science department at Arlington Memorial High School.

"We came down to meet the people and not only did I like the people but I liked the school and I think that they will appreciate the sort of equipment that I had," Osterland said.

Appreciate it? Yeah, you could say that.

"This man donated the tools of his life's work, and I am honored that we will be able to bring his legacy to the next generation of life sciences," science teacher Kathleen McBrien said.

On Wednesday, Osterland, as well as Arlington resident Don Keelan and Mack Molding through their Chief Financial Officer Florence Belnap were welcomed and thanked for generous donations each has made to the public high school. In recognition of these gifts, three rooms at AMHS will be named for the donors: the Osterland Life Sciences Laboratory, Mack Music Studio and The Keelan Family room.

Osterland, a noted clinical researcher of human disease who has published more than 150 scientific articles and taught medicine at McGill University and Washington University of Medicine, gifted scientific tools including a teaching microscope, circulating water bath, microcenterfuge, LCD task light, stirring plate and a vacuum pump.

Many of the tools have already been put to use in McBrien's classes.

"I just about fainted when I got my circulating water bath because to do the transformation experiments we need to have a hot water bath and cold," McBrien said. "To buy that piece of equipment for the one lab I do every year, it doesn't seem worth the expense."

The students have also been excited to get their hands on the new equipment.

"It's a really great thing to have all this equipment because it really does open up a lot of doors that we wouldn't otherwise have (open), being that we're such a small school and we do have a limited budget," said Duncan Gamble, a senior who plans to study neuroscience next fall. "Getting this equipment in here not only enables us to do other labs that we couldn't otherwise do, but it also enables us to go and have some of the legwork taken out (when doing something such as) the bacterial transformation lab."

"You don't have to tell me. I worked with limited budgets my whole career," Osterland responded with a chuckle.

The donation from Mack Molding allowed the school to purchase new sound equipment for the Mack Performing Arts Center and to cover the costs for the Robotics Team to compete in the Annual BotBall Challenge in Massachusetts. Keelan's donation. The Robotics team also received donations from Quadra-Tek and the BotBall Association.

Mack Molding has long supported AMHS through donations, which Belnap said is important to the Arlington-based company. "It's a way of giving back to the community, it's a way of helping students. A lot of their parents work at our plants and it's nice to be able to support them and help with their education," Belnap said.

The new sound system was needed, as music teacher Phelan Gallagher said in the past a system from Fisher Elementary had to be brought to the high school for performances.

"It's important that we have the quality for the audience so they can hear everything and it sounds good, but it's also important the kids are working with the equipment they'll find in the field," Gallagher said.

The Keelan Family Foundation has donated thousands to support the Arlington music program and industrial arts program in recent years. Their most recent donation allowed the school to purchase a new computer and music recording software for the music program and three orbital sanders and a sliding compound mitre saw for the industrial arts program, which includes woodworking, landscape design and small engine repair.

"For two year's he's donated money for equipment. It's just been outstanding to get this stuff," industrial arts teacher Timothy Stewart said as he showed off benches, gun cabinets and other items students are making that were scattered across the shop Friday.

Keelan said the industrial arts and music programs have been designated as recipients of donations because of the good he sees come from them.

"Our school is benefiting youngsters who may not go off to college by teaching them the skills you learn here in this shop and other shops they have here, and they can apply those skills. And if (AMHS) needs additional equipment that will enhance the education, we're for that," Keelan said.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi