Valour students embrace specialized skills
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Valour High School students Kara Desgroseilliers (left), Tuesdae Slobodian-Doyle and Sam Shamess participated in the Ontario Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) showcase held last Wednesday. The program allows students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
PETAWAWA – Valour High School students are fully embracing a new program which allows them to chart a course towards a potential future career while earning a major.
Last week, 89 Valour Voyageurs enrolled in the Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) initiative put the merits of the provincial program on full display during a unique showcase held in the school's gymnasium. The exhibition aimed to sell the program to those students who will soon be high school seniors.
“We identified a gap in students understanding what the program is and how they appreciate the value of the program,” said Valour principal Brian Baird.
SHSM, which is pronounced 'Shazam' by the students, is a specialized program that offers students a customized, career-focused learning experience while contributing to the students’ Ontario Secondary School Diploma requirements. Students, usually in grades 11 and 12, complete a bundle of eight to ten courses relevant to their desired industry.
They go on to earn industry certifications, including first aid, CPR and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) qualifications, and gain important skills on the job through cooperative education placements. SHSM sectors featured at Valour include sports, information technology, transportation and arts and culture. The program is offered in all seven high schools within the Renfrew County District School Board.
SHSM enables students to build a foundation of sector-focused knowledge and skills before graduating and entering apprenticeship training, college, university, or an entry-level position in the workplace. Valour SHSM co-ordinator and guidance counsellor Katie Long said this showcase event was entirely produced by the students to better explain what SHSM is to those who will be entering Grade 11 next year.
“The teachers let the students run with it,” said Long. “We as teachers talk about it but it is better to come from their peers.”
The program began at the former General Panet High School in 2007. One of the big attractions is that successfully completing SHSM will earn the students a red seal on their diplomas indicating they have graduated with a major.
“I have learned so many new skills,” said Grade 12 student Malika Richards, who worked on a display board on coaching with her sister, Maddie.
“You graduate with skills you will need in the future,” added Grade 12 student Ethan Bullivant, who has even attended a leadership camp at Bark Lake near Toronto thanks to SHSM. “I want to be a coach one and this will help me reach that goal.”
Displaying her colour paintings that she created through the arts and culture program, Grade 12 student Emily Combdon said she has been exposed to so many diverse opinions and aspects of the arts through SHSM. She was among a group of students who recently went on a tour of the National Arts Gallery in Ottawa.
“I like exploring the different artists and their interpretations,” added Emily. “It has definitely opened my mind to so many concepts and I am more creative in my art now.”