Teens focused on their future


Are high school graduates ready for the next step?

The principals and teachers at Seaway District High School are doing everything they can to ensure the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”

Seaway is just one of many schools taking part in the new Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program introduced by the Ontario government. Each student graduating from the program will get an SHSM seal on their diploma.

According to Principal Terry Gardiner, SHSM “engages students and gives them a purpose.”

He went on to say, “I feel it’s my job to set  people up to meet their potential and have something meaningful after their high school experience.”

The SHSM program allows students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests. At the same time, they’re able to meet the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Students who take part in the SHSM program gain important skills on the job. They also earn industry certifications like standard first aid and CPR.

The SHSM program consists of specialized sectors. Most schools choose one sector of specialty. They are: arts and culture; aviation and aerospace; business; construction; energy; environment; forestry; health and wellness; horticulture and landscaping; hospitality and tourism; information and communications technology; justice, community safety, and emergency services; manufacturing; mining; non-profit; sports; and transportation.

Seaway’s specialized sector is agriculture. There are career options for students choosing a path to apprenticeship; to college; to university; or, straight to the workplace. Regardless of the path chosen, there are many possibilities for a rewarding career.

According to Gardiner, Seaway has “eight students on track to graduate with the seal this year.”

In addition, in September he said there were 18 grade 11 students signing up. He pointed out that the program begins in the 11th grade for those who are interested.

With the SHSM program, students are  “allowed to be part of experiential learning.”

“They do better in school,” he continued. Also, “students with learning disabilities do better.”

Gardiner credits the success of the SHSM program to the fact that students can see the relevance of what they’re doing. They’re engaged and can see a purpose for their hard work.

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