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The 2017/18 school year is just one month old and students are beginning to be exposed to opportunities for the 2018/19 school year. The grade 11 students are getting ready to apply to tertiary institutions with the hope of early acceptance. As well as the grade eights are beginning or should be starting to think about what trajectory they should embark upon for their high school adventure.

At the Peel District School Board (PDSB) we are ramping up our efforts to disseminate as much information to parents, students and the community with regards to the variety of options and pathways that are available for our students. On September 28th Fletcher’s Creek Public school held an open house. The administration married their secondary school options for grade eight students parent information night with the open house. It was heartwarming to see the gymnasium filled with students and their guardians getting such pertinent information to facilitate an informed and well thought out plan for student’s success in high school. Such gatherings are very useful as it is a great opportunity to ask questions, hear other parents and student concerns and queries as well as it’s an excellent opportunity to gather information.

When parents or guardians attend such information sessions it’s important to make the best of the opportunity by asking questions. There is no such thing as a bad question. Parents make sure you understand the difference between applied and academic. I would encourage you to have a frank discussion with your child. Talk about your expectations of him or her and also discuss what are the expectations your child has of himself or herself. Is your child university, college or apprenticeship bound? What are their plans after high school? Is your child doing applied programs just because they are easier or somebody said they should? Talk about your child’s passion with them and possible pathways to make their dream a reality.

The PDSB has High Skills Programs and several other Regional Programs. Explore the High Skills Program offerings and determine if it is right for your child. Schools have SHSM. Do you know what they are? An SHSM is an acronym used at the PDSB it is used to denote the Specialist High Skills Major. These are programs that tend to focus on a particular interest. For example, the SHSM in Health and Wellness introduces students to the healthcare field by having a focus on subjects like biology and science but exploring areas like diagnostic medical technologies. The SHSM in manufacturing would focus on 21st-century career pathways associated with manufacturing. The Sci-Tech program focuses on science, technology, engineering and Math (STEM). The Chinguacousy Secondary School brochure describes their SHSM curriculum as “rich experiential learning, sector-recognized certification, cross-curricular study, Cooperative Education, and interaction with practising healthcare professionals, students will be exposed to the ever-evolving field”.  I would highly recommend visiting some of the schools that offer the programs that your child is interested in. Why not experience firsthand what the site has to offer? What better way to get a vibe or feel the pulse of a school than spending some time in the environment and meet some of the staff and students that are attending the school.

Different schools offer different programs. For example, Applewood Heights offers a Regional Sports Program.; Bramalea Secondary school offers a Truck and Coach Program Engineering and Technology; Central Peel Secondary offers a Regional Strings Program as well as an Advanced Placement (AP) Program; Turner Fenton Secondary School offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program; Mayfield Secondary School offers the Regional Arts program; TL Kennedy Secondary School has an International Executive Leadership Academy and also offers Graphic Design Management; Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School offers  Justice, Community Safety and Emergency Services Program and North Park offers the International Business Technology (IBT) Program. This list is by no means exhaustive. Talk to teachers and staff, visit the PDSB website and ask questions.: ask, ask, ask.

There is something for everyone at the PDSB. If you can’t find it at PDSB chances are you can’t get it at all! Remember that there are application deadlines to get into these programs. At the PDSB most of the electronic application period is between November 6-24th 2017. Some programs may have application fees associated with them. But don’t let the cost deter you. If the fees are a financial barrier speak to the school administration or your Trustee for help. During the month of October and November, many high schools will be having their open houses and information nights. Attend all that interest you so you will be able to harness as much knowledge about the educational opportunities available to your child. Remember knowledge is power.

If you visit the PDSB website all the dates and information about secondary programs will be readily available. I would highly recommend that parents, students and community members that are not attending the PDSB visit their child’s or community member’s school board website and explore the myriad of opportunities that are offered. I would also contact the school guidance counsellor and have a discussion with him or her in the presence of your child. In the final analysis, a decision should be made as to what is in the best interest of the students. So, journey with me as we explore the options that are available for students in transition. Walk Good, Belle Marché.


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