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Students Explore Career Opportunities During Thousand Islands SS Specialist High Skills Major Week
Students Explore Career Opportunities During Thousand Islands SS Specialist High Skills Major Week
Posted on 03/09/2023

March 9, 2023 (Brockville, ON) Whether students have their eyes set on college, university, an apprenticeship, or entering the workforce, Thousand Islands Secondary School (TISS) had a bit of everything last week as students explored career pathways and Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) available to them.

Over 170 Grade 10, 11 and 12 students took part in the different sessions from February 27 to March 3 that covered the school’s four SHSM programs in Arts and Culture, Health and Wellness, Hospitality and Tourism, and Manufacturing. Throughout the week those interactive and hands-on sessions included almost 40 different options such as concussion awareness, intro to athletic taping, 3D printing, customer service for entering the workforce, fire safety and firefighting, audition preparation for actors, sign language, and podcast and broadcasting.  

Tina Poldervaart, one of the SHSM leads and co-op teacher at TISS, organized the week-long event to promote the SHSMs available to TISS students and potentially spark a career interest.

“It was a great week of diverse workshops that students were able to participate in and investigate different avenues,” says Poldervaart, who notes that having community partners come in, lead these workshops and present their careers and passions is a great benefit to students. “For SHSM students, they must complete certain certifications like standard first aid and CPR, but from there, they were able to choose at least three or four workshops, sessions or certifications that they were interested in.”  

SHSM is a specialized program that allows students to gain credits toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and focus their learning on a specific economic sector at the same time. Upon completion of their required courses, students receive an SHSM seal on their diplomas. Plus, they earn industry certifications like first aid and CPR and gain important skills on the job through co-operative education placements.

The cross-curricular and cross-sector sessions in customer service, yoga and meditation for stress management, and conversational hypnosis gave students the opportunity to develop not only career or workplace skills but strategies to deal with anxiety, stress, or other factors.

The sessions or workshops ranged from two hours to a full day. Jacob de Mora, Grade 11, is currently in the health and wellness SHSM. He enjoyed the week of learning, the various workshops and potential career opportunities.

“It was pretty fun. When I was looking at the sign-up sheet, I did some research and registered for a bunch of unrelated workshops that piqued my interest across the different SHSMs."

de Mora participated in a variety of workshops including the fire safety workshop and liked the hands-on firefighting aspect, being able to put out a fake fire with an extinguisher and when to use one. He adds that although he is in the health and wellness SHSM, he’s thinking about a potential career in technology trades, an electrician, or even a therapist.  

Throughout the week, students in certain sessions earned certifications in first aid and CPR, food handler, and hoisting and rigging.

Destany Davis, Grade 11, signed up for several workshops including customer service conversational hypnosis and concussion awareness

“I liked the different aspects of the sessions that I took because they were quite different from each other and they offered a good variety. I really enjoyed the customer service session because it taught us about what you should do if you work in customer service and what you should look for when you go somewhere. We also learned how working in customer service, you encounter different attitudes and the proper way to respond to them.”  

In the cook/line cook workshop, students learned about what that career entails, the potential for being your own boss, safety, and how to cook and follow recipes.

I definitely enjoyed the session and learning from Chef P. The techniques and recipes that he shared with us and his knowledge from his own business were great. We were active and engaged the whole time doing the food and learning the recipes,” says Wyatt Cole, Grade 11.  

Cole also took part in the food handler session where they learned about the various foods, their danger zones and proper handling. For a wide range of sessions, he signed up for a trip to Ottawa to visit TD Place Arena and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group for a career panel and tour.

"We interviewed the general managers and the managers and coaches of the Ottawa 67's and we got to learn about their job. Then we did some activities with them, one was about sports and wellness. We learned how a trainer would go up to a player and assess their injury. It was a good experience.”

All students who completed their required workshops for their SHSM received credit towards earning their SHSM red seal. As the week concluded, Poldervaart says the week was successful in helping students prepare for potential careers, expanding their horizons and opening new doors.

“I enjoyed it a lot and I definitely look forward to more courses,” says de Mora. 

For media inquiries, please contact:   

April Scott-Clarke   Manager of Communications   Upper Canada District School Board   [email protected] 

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