Hands-on technical programs becoming popular avenue for students
by Sandy Lindsay

June 2, 2016



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Grade 10 Students prefabricate walls for Habitat for Humanity builds ... they are currently working on build #4 for Habitat (L standing) Joe McPherson, Brayden Horseman, Adrian Schwandt (L kneeling) Spencer Downey & Cam McEwen

Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS) in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) continues to have students excel in High Skills Major programs that include horticulture, electrical and carpentry, manufacturing and welding and recently invited visitors from the community to learn first-hand about the programs.

In the sciences programming, the area of horticulture  includes a self-sustaining greenhouse that has been in progress for some 30 years.  Teacher, Keith Day, also a physics teacher says that by working in horticulture, students come to understand both physics and the science of biology.  "They also learning about marketing and fundraising and become very involved in the 'Young Growers' initiative which brings young elementary school students into the greenhouse to learn about the basics of plants and then who take that back to their schools.

"Many students have gone on to study horticulture at university after being part of this program," says Day.  "It's through the support of local business partnerships, such as Canadian Tire, Bruce Power and the Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) in Port Elgin and Southampton, and the community that comes out to our annual plants sales, that enables the program to continue as it receives no government funding."

The Carpentry and Electrical trades have continued to grow under teacher Bud Halpin.

"Our students have been involved in many builds throughout the community," says Halpin, "and they are  their skills, desire to succeed and work ethics are now widely recognized." Halpin, who is the first high school teacher to complete a year-long safety training for heights program,  went on to explain that the mission of the trades at SDSS is "safety, education and community".   "We are also very appreciative of the Town of Saugeen Shores help and we have built many projects including the Fairy Lake Pavilion, boardwalks at the beach, Biener baseball field bleachers and many more."

Students Maddi Campbell (L) and Alexis Martin

Student Maddi Campbell is very interested in electrical work and has achieved several certifications in a wide range of related subjects.  She also has CPR and Lifesaving and is going on to take her certification in 'Heights Training Safety'.

Height Training Gear

 "I started construction in Grade 10," says Campbell, "and I really like the working outdoor and hands-on aspect."

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Alexis Martin will also be graduating with a Red Seal certification and has completed several 'college' entry courses through Bruce Power.  "I have taken many courses, that I would never have been able to afford, so  taking them through Bruce Power has been a real benefit."  Martin plans to go to Lambton University in Sarnia.

When students complete the course under Halpin's direction they graduate with a 'Red Seal' and all their hours spent working on various building projects go toward an apprenticeship program.

Teacher Nancy Darlington-Smith also explained that students in the science also take field trips to learn about subjects such as renewable energy.  "They have visited the Bio-digester in Walkerton (Bruce County), worked with Carlsun Energy and have been introduced to the new training technique, ICE (innovation, creativity, energy) and have come up with sustainable energy ideas for the school and the greenhouse."
Manufacturing Teacher, Howard Barker, also explained how the students are becoming involved in electric car manufacturing and have created a solar driven prototype. 
"We need to embrace the future," said Barker, "and these students are doing that."

Following the presentations by teachers of the various programs, the visitors were invited on a tour of the various areas.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016