Starting next January, students at J.L. Crowe Secondary School will have access to new trades programming at school.
Announced at Monday night’s board meeting, School District 20 trustees heard Bill Ford, assistant superintendent, outline the features of the new Renovation and Design Academy.
“The students are going to do amazing things,” he said. “This is going to be quite the opportunity for these kids. I wish I had something like this when I was in high school.”
The academy is based around existing courses offered by the Ministry of Education, but will take them to the next level, giving Grade 11 and Grade 12 students an opportunity to learn about home renovations and get a real look at career trades.
“The courses that Crowe will be using are the skills exploration courses, drafting and design and math courses,” said Ford. “They have come up with unique learning outcomes connected to what the kids will experience.”
For the first year of the academy, classes will mostly take place in shops, but the goal is for students to branch out and expand their skill set with real-world experiences.
“The academy is going to start in Semester 2 of next year and will be delivered mostly in shop,” said Ford. “The ultimate intent, though, is to have the kids leave the school and go and work onsite in a house being renovated, but that won’t happen for next year.”
Trustees were overwhelmingly supportive of the new academy when it was time for questions.
“This sounds like an amazing opportunity,” said Rosann Brunton, trustee for Castlegar and Robson.
Beaver Valley Trustee, Kim Mandoli hoped to get some more information after enrolment was complete.
“I think that the academy is going to be quite relevant,” she said.
“If you can come back to us on how many of the enrolled students are girls and how many are boys, I would really like to see that.”
The overall consensus at the meeting was that the program is going to be a positive move for the district, providing a bridge to the Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE-IT).
The already existing program allows students to work towards high school graduation credits, as well as post-secondary credits through in-class apprenticeship.
The new Renovation and Design Academy will cost $300 for students who wish to sign up, but Ford says if a student can’t afford the program, that doesn’t mean they are disqualified from joining.
“The hardship policy is included in this academy,” he said. “No student will be disadvantaged because they can’t afford the fee, which covers transportation to go offsite, consumables and the best part, each student will receive their own set of basic tool that they will get to keep.”
Some other new programming in SD20 in the upcoming school year is the early French immersion pilot for kindergarten students, to be offered at Twin Rivers Elementary in Castlegar.
The pilot immersion project aimed at getting students into French immersion before their Grade 6 year, when it was previously offered.
The class currently has 22 students enrolled, enough for a full class to start in September.
The next regular board meeting for SD20 is on May 1 at 5 p.m. at the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre in Trail.