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Woodcrest students get a taste of the trades

Grade 8 students received hands-on experience on Tuesday.

THUNDER BAY -- Oliver DeFranceschi has an interest in being a sheet metal worker, especially as his dad and grandfather have worked in the skilled trades.

On Tuesday, he and his Grade 8 classmates at Woodcrest Public School got to learn about other career paths.

Students spent a couple of hours trying six different activities as part of the Got Skillz Skilled Trades Bootcamp, which was organized by Lakehead Public Schools and a variety of community partners.

“Today has helped me get introduced to trades that I maybe haven’t thought about doing before,” DeFranceschi said.

“The culinary one was really fun and I’ve always been interested in automotive things, so to work on that has been cool. I think trying all these things is going to change my perspective for the better as I get ready for high school.”

In addition to automotive and recreational vehicle work with Half-Way Motor Power Sports and culinary lessons with A Fine Fit Catering, there were also stations for welding and rigging with Tom Jones Corporation, electrical with International Brothers of Electrical Workers, plumbing with Thermal Mechanical, and carpentry with Carpenters Local 1669.

The student success resource teacher at Lakehead Public Schools, Roger Drcar, said the event allowed students to get some hands-on experience in the trades so they can make a decision for what pathway they want to go on down the line.

“We’ve been encouraging all the students to interact with the mentors and asking them what career path was for them,” Drcar added.

Mel Renaud, who is the teacher of the Grade 8 class at Woodcrest, was able to chat with her students as they tried the different trades.

“They’ve been loving the hands-on learning, which I think is huge,” Renaud said.

“We don’t get a lot of opportunities to do this kind of learning in school and I think the more events like this … the better. They are all involved and it’s something different for them.

“They are learning skills that they can also use at home and they are all excited about it.”

Drcar said the long-term goal is to have every Grade 8 student at Lakehead Public Schools participate in an event like this before they make the move to high school.

“There’s so many of these students that can have viable careers in the skill trades, especially with the current shortage of people in those positions and a lot of retirements coming up,” Drcar added.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for them.”

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