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REPORTING · 28th October 2011
Walter McFarlane
With all the projects promised to our region in the following years, the School Board approved consideration of a pilot program so Grade Ten students can learn trades. Trustee Lynn Newbury brought this motion forward from the Education Committee to the School Board at the October 26th regular meeting.

“This opportunity for Grade 10 Students to be introduced to the trades,” said Newbury after the meeting. “That just is a phenomenal opportunity for our students and given what’s happening in the Northwest, and particularly in Kitimat now, we know that we’re going to need lots of qualified trades people and this will give grade ten students, males and females an opportunity to chase a number of different trades and see if that’s a career that they would like to pursue.”

The pilot program will go to Caledonia Secondary School in Terrace. Newbury pointed out it would meet three of their goals as educators. It would increase success and decrease failure, it engage students in their education and would focus on the learners.

School Board Superintendent Nancy Wells commented the economic development going on in this Region would create opportunities for the trades. Director of Instruction, Brent Speidel stated Grade Ten is the year where students start earning credits for graduation. He also stated this decision to go into trades could not be made halfway into Grade 11 or into Grade 12.

“By putting this program at the Grade 10 Level, it gives a number of those students an opportunity to get a clear picture of what it is that they might be doing so they could put those plans in motion and then move through proper basic training and secondary school apprenticeship programs,” said Speidel.

The program will alter the course work which these students will do. It takes up their entire second semester. Forty students will be divided into two groups of twenty who will alternate between course work in school and trades work at Northwest Community College in two week intervals.

The trades which students can learn are Plumbing/Pipefitting, Welding, Electrical, Carpentry, Automotive/Heavy Duty Mechanic. For course work, they will be taking English, Planning and Social Studies from one of their high school’s teachers.

Trustee Gary Turner expressed concerns about students acting up while they are unsupervised during breaks. It was explained the school will be talking with the parents about what their expectations of the students are. A student who washes out of the program for being unsafe would be put into an independent learning program for the two weeks they are at the school. Administration also explained there would be an application process for this program.

Trustee Tanis Kilpatrick wanted to know if the board approved the motion, if it will be included in the budget. She pointed out this program was supposed to be implemented in the 2011-2012 year but was put off due to lack of funding. She also stated there were other programs before the Education Committee which should also be considered as well.

The motion was called and carried. Newbury then discussed some of the other items before the education committee.

She also commented she would like to see the program in her schools in Hazelton, as well as in Kitimat, although she was not certain how long it would take to put these programs into those two communities. She expressed the pilot will be successful and hopefully implemented into those schools quickly.