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The adVenture Continues

The Hamilton District Christian High Venture Program is thriving in its first year in action.

An emergency trauma unit seems like an unusual location for a group of high school students. But at McMaster University Medical Centre on a sunny Tuesday morning, almost a dozen students dressed in full scrubs connected with medical professionals and participated in a trauma simulation that demonstrated the various roles and procedures in a typical trauma treatment scenario. It was just another day for Venture students at Hamilton District Christian High.

Whether it’s learning about the robotic milking technology at Maplebrae Dairy Farm, interviewing a Superior Court Judge at the John Sopinka Courthouse or rolling up their sleeves at CityKidz and the Salvation Army in Hamilton, the Venture Program engages Hamilton District Christian High students in a variety of academic and vocational opportunities.
September 2014 marked the first year of HDCH’s Venture Program, which offers students the opportunity to meet core course requirements while exploring career options, developing their own sense of vocation, and being part of ‘real world’ workplace placements and internships.

Venture is a place where you stop thinking that ‘someday I will be at my goal,’ and you start to believe that ‘today I am on the road that brings me to my final goal.’” – Lesley DeBoer, Venture Student

The vocational interests of Hamilton District Christian High students are as diverse as the teens themselves and represent a microcosm of our community. In order to connect with this wide range, field trips and guest speakers are planned based on individual aspirations and potential career directions. In its first year, eleven students participated in the program and almost 20 more have enrolled for September 2015.

Related: Venture Program

“The program is designed to incorporate both business and non-profit career opportunities and also looks at how these two areas are closely connected,” explains Richard Van Egmond, Director of the HDCH Venture and Co-operative Learning Programs. “Many for-profit businesses contribute very significantly to charitable and community-based causes, and many charitable groups we connected with embody excellent business practices and financial management strategies to accomplish their goals.”

The First Year
In 2014, students in the Grade 10 year had a range of experiences, including field trips, class speakers, leadership events and campus projects. Venture students acted as team hosts and tournament officials during the school’s hosting of the OFSAA volleyball championships in March and they assisted in the planning and organization of a Career Day event for Grade 9 students. With some help from Chris Ozolins, a professional disc golf player from Hamilton, the students have also been busy developing plans for a disc golf course for the HDCH campus.

One of my favourite experiences in the program so far has been visiting CityKidz, a non-profit organization in Hamilton. It was nice to experience a small taste of some of the many things that must happen for this organization to run, and to appreciate all the effort that goes into welcoming kids from across Hamilton each week. I especially enjoyed this because I have an interest in mission/non-profit work, and I like seeing the types of good things going on around Hamilton and the way people are helping each other.” – Madeleine Schaafsma, Venture Student

In the coming year, these students will be part of a number of short-term mentorship at placements including Redeemer University Communications Office, Vandermolen Dairy Farms, Econotech Automotive, Deerview Seniors Home, Westmount Terrace, World Renew, McCallum Sather Architects, Village Chiropractic Clinic and the Ross McBride Law firm.

A highlight for Richard was seeing the class grow in a variety of leadership, public speaking, and organizational skills. “It was gratifying for me to see the students provide an in-depth overview of their year-long learning to members of the Board Executive, and share their excitement about the Disc Golf project.”

Community at Large
The program has been well-received in the community, with businesses and organizations supporting the program by hosting tours and placements, providing resources, and connecting with the class as speakers.

Initially, the biggest challenge had been coordinating short-term placements for the Grade 11 year. Businesses and organizations are familiar with the traditional full semester co-op format. Since not as many schools offer this option to their students, many employers at potential placement sites are not aware that the high school program in Ontario also allows for students to spend up to 5 days at a work experience placement as part of a credit course.

“I have been impressed by how quickly employers and organizations are willing to implement an opportunity and agree to take one of our students, once they have the information about how this works and what the benefits are,”- RichardVan Egmond

Venture is a ‘Class of Opportunities’ where you meet people who can mentor you in your future career, go to places you wouldn’t be able to visit on your own, and are able to serve your community.” – Justin Luth, Venture Student

Richard is pleased with the positive responses from the mentors, hosts, and guests throughout the year. “Two common feedback themes were along these lines: a program like this would have been really valuable to me when I was in high school, and, I like how student interest and initiative drive what you do as a class–what a great way to help students explore and consider various career options.”

Looking Forward
We are looking forward to next year and seeing how a new group of Grade 10 students entering the program will continue to build and develop Venture. As well, it will be exciting to see how our Grade 11 Venture students will further develop their skill sets at their placements and experience deeper learning as they work with their independent course options and begin developing their career portfolios.

Related: Becoming a Community Partner

Through a flexible timetable that supports both independent and shared learning experiences, Venture students engage in learning designed to develop critical problem-solving capabilities and the academic skills required for success in their post-secondary lives.

ASprogisAdrianne Sprogis
Communications Specialist
Hamilton District Christian High

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