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LCSD students benefiting from dual-credit courses

During the Lakeland Catholic School District board meeting on Feb. 19, dual-credit coordinator Amanda Wildman made a presentation outlining what’s offered to students through the programming. Photo by Robynne Henry.

BONNYVILLE – Dual-credit courses continue to be a popular choice for Lakeland Catholic School District (LCSD) students. 

Amanda Wildman, dual-credit coordinator for LCSD, updated the board of trustees on career and technology foundations (CTF) and career and technology studies (CTS) courses are available at their schools.

The district started offering the dual-credit options as a way of giving their students a head-start into the working-world before they even graduate.

“Sometimes, it’s hard for our teenagers to know their pathway in post-secondary or career wise,” Wildman explained during the Feb. 19 board meeting. “I’m so proud of our division, board, senior administration, principals, teachers, support staff, and our division partners because we continue to be innovative and take risks so we continue to engage in learning opportunities for our students to best prepare them for their future.”

CTF is offered to students in Grades 5 to 9.

“It’s really about them developing an awareness and understanding of their likes and dislikes,” noted Wildman.

She added, “As students are exploring different CTF challenges at that level, they’re becoming more advanced as they move from Grade 5 to… Grade 9.”

One of the goals of the CTF program is to allow students to explore their interests and passions, along with improving their ability to work in a team.

In the classroom this is done through challenges, which are either developed by the students or posed by a teacher.

“Students may be asked to create a product, service, or performance. The idea is they work as a team to communicate their ideas, create a plan, and then appraise it,” detailed Wildman.

At Dr. Bernard Brosseau School in Bonnyville, students are learning about photography and digital editing, video production, driver’s license learner’s prep, and coding.

One stand out Wildman outlined was what’s called genius hour.

“What the students do is they pick a topic that they’re passionate about, they’ll research the topic, and then present their topics however they want. Whether they make a movie or create a keynote, they have the opportunity to present their information in different means.”

Grade 9 classes at Notre Dame High School (NDHS) include CTF challenges in foods, wildlife pathways, communication technology, and construction technology.

The students having the opportunity to gain a new appreciation for nature through the wildlife pathways class was a highlight for trustee Vicky Lefebvre.

“If you live within a city and you never get out, you don’t have an appreciation for the vastness of our properties, bushes, trails, and that kind of stuff that people aren’t necessarily exposed to if they don’t get out.”

According to Wildman, NDHS Grade 9s have learned about fly-fishing, snowshoeing, outdoor survival and first aid, and how to read topographical maps.

“When we’re looking at research, a lot of times we’re seeing things where kids aren’t as engaged in outdoor (activities) or they’re not getting outside as much. Building that appreciation is just critical, and I think it’s sparked something that might be a lifelong interest,” she expressed.

Students in Grades 10 to 12 have the option to participate in CTS and dual-credit pathways. In the 2020/21 school year, NDHS had just over 500 students enrolled in those courses while Assumption had around 230 taking advantage of the program.

Communication technology, robotics, hairstyling, environmental science, foods and fashion, and sports medicine are just some of the professions NDHS students get to experience through the program.

The healthcare aide course is being reintroduced at the school next year, which will explore the variety of health careers that are available.

“They’ll learn about nursing, lab work, and different technicians within a hospital. There’s so many jobs within the health field, and we don’t want to limit our students so they think ‘oh, the only jobs in health are either being a nurse or doctor.’ We want them to realize there’s a great variety out there, and if they don’t know it can be very hard for them to explore those options,” Wildman added.

An integral component of the CTF and CTS courses, Wildman stressed, is having the support from the community to give students a glimpse into different industries.

“We’re so lucky that we have these partners in our communities who open up their doors to let our kids in, and they do that willingly and share their expertise and knowledge with our kids.”

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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