Trade Student Spotlight – Paddling Together in Partnership: Working Together to Support Students

by Heidi Hackman & Colleen McNamee, District Career Coordinators, SD 63 | photo by Kathryn Alvarez Photography – 

We are excited to inform you that on May 2 and 3 the Saanich School District will be hosting the Vancouver Island Career Educators (VICE) Conference with Camosun College’s South Island Partnership team. The title of our conference is “Paddling Together in Partnership.” Working together to support all our students is a goal we all share.

Regular readers will know that we usually highlight a high school student who has found success in the trades either by taking a district sampler course, a dual credit program with one of our post-secondary partners, or by working as part of the Youth Work in Trade program. We wouldn’t be able to offer these programs if it weren’t for the strong partnerships we have with other post-secondary providers, and particularly Camosun College. The seeds to embark on a career journey while still in high school are planted much earlier.

Nicola Priestly (right) is the director of the SIP (South Island Partnership) team and is also a volunteer on the Skills Canada BC board of directors. We value this partnership and this month will be focusing on Skills Canada BC’s vision. It is “the catalyst that creates and fosters connections within communities facilitating exposure to trades, technology, and career opportunities for youth.” This vision is accomplished through regional competitions, try-a-trade events and InSpire presentations.

InSpire presentations occur in middle schools from November to February and are taught by volunteers, and led by another SIP Trades Transition Coordinator, Ben Haber (at right with Nicole). Last year there were over 200 InSpire presentations in the Greater Victoria area. This is where the seeds are planted and the fun begins. Then in March, hundreds of middle schoolers descend on Camosun College’s Interurban campus with unbridled enthusiasm to compete and learn in events ranging from spaghetti bridge design, woodworking, sumobot and the very popular and famous gravity car racing. This year Saanich took 75 students and won gold and bronze in Jr. Woodworking, gold in gravity car and gold, silver and bronze in sumobot. The winners in gravity car and sumobot will be moving on to a provincial competition. Try-A-Trade events occur at middle schools in May. At this time, whole classes participate in a gardening, metal or carpentry workshop.

Competitions for the high school students include graphic design, culinary, baking, photography, carpentry, automotive, hairstyling, pipe fitting, welding, public speaking, photography, cabinetmaking, electrical and electronics. If students place first in the regional competition they can compete in the provincial competition in Abbotsford. This year Saanich is sending four students to compete at the provincial competition and we are very proud of their accomplishments. If students win provincials they move on to the national competition. Last year two of our Saanich Students represented BC at the Nationals in Winnipeg: Keira Paterson for photography, and Henry Heinicke for public speaking. Henry captured the Bronze Medal for B.C.!

We are so thankful to our classroom teachers for instilling high standards of excellence in their students, to Skills BC/Canada, and Skilled Trades BC for making these opportunities available to our students. Strong partnerships are like plants: they start with a good idea (seed), and require a special kind of nurturing that leads to success. Congratulations to all the wonderful partnerships that help us all get there.

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