Apprenticing students in wood shops of Greater Victoria high schools are buzzing and sawing for an innovative new program that will bring holiday cheer to elementary schools.
Tighe Archer is a Grade 12 student and carpentry apprentice at Esquimalt High. He is one of many high school students around the district who has been working on Winter Tree assembly kits.
Archer has been cutting five blocks into shape for each kit, a total of 125 pieces, or 25 sets, and he’ll be done this week, he said. The kits go to elementary school Grade 3 and 4 classes in the Victoria School District as a product of the Pathways and Partnerships program that allows students to explore and experience who they are and what direction they can take after high school, said Lindsay Johnson, district vice principal for the Pathways & Partnerships and career programs.
”People love it. We have an incredible experience exposing students to these pathways. When students get tools in their hands, and realize they can work with their heads and hands to create things, it’s amazing to watch,” Johnson said.
For Archer, it’s been a fun bit of work that contributes to his apprenticeship. Unfortunately, because of COVID, he isn’t able to deliver the kits to the children’s classrooms. But, he is also on track to finish Grade 12 with 900 apprenticing hours and qualify for a $1,000 scholarship.
And he’s actually volunteered his time to not only cut the pieces but also to build small tables, or work tables, for students to use in their classrooms, Johnson said.
“The plan is to get the carpentry ticket and then work in that, make some money, and then go back to school possibly for engineering,” Archer said.
Around 10 schools will have classes complete the Winter Tree project kits which will be delivered to all 27 elementary schools in the district. Johnson’s team parachutes into each class for a lunch-and-learn where donated tools, courtesy of Milwaukee and KMS tool companies, and the Winter Tree kits, are donated.
“This will be approximately 1,000 students who will get to do the project,” Johnson said. “We go in and teach the teachers how to implement it in their class and give them the courage to put hammers in the hands of Grade 3s.”
Doncaster, Quadra, James Bay and View Royal are the first elementary schools to get the kits.
The concept came from the district’s South Island Partnership with Camosun College and other school districts, and was started by Cowichan School District and adopted by SD61.
“Not all students have homes with work shops, they don’t all have this opportunity,” Johnson said.
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