Notre Dame students dig into Building Opportunities Program

  • Sep. 23, 2015 3:07 p.m.

Last week students of École Secondaire Notre Dame High School broke ground in this year’s Building Opportunities project which allows students hands-on experience in trades.

Students from Grades 11 and 12 are eligible to enroll in the program to allow them a closer look and better understanding of potential career choices. Laebon Homes has partnered with the school to continue this program at 238 Truant Close in Red Deer.

“The program is used by Grade 11 and 12 students who work from 7 a.m. to about noon for most of the first semester – from September to Christmas. They earn 15 credits by working with general contractors, trade partners and sub contractors,” explained Building Opportunities Program Coordinator Mike VanLanduyt, with Notre Dame school.

“It is a Laebon Homes house, but their subcontractors agree to work with our students.”

VanLanduyt said that the students’ roles vary from observation to actively involved work within the build. Students are able to see the process from the ground up, working first with land surveyors and foundation construction workers right up to the point of drywall and finishing.

“We take students from our Construction Tech. classes, from our Electro Tech. classes, fabrication – all kinds. I’ve had students from design studies. They kind of come from all over, but the main thing is that they are interested in one of the trades,” said VanLanduyt.

This home is the 12th build that has been constructed with the Building Opportunities Program.

“Since the start, working with our trade partners has gotten a lot smoother. Most of them now know what to expect while working with the students. It seems to be growing every year,” VanLanduyt said.

The program allows students to get hands-on experience and to make connections to potential employers. These partnerships and potential work relationships help the students to also decide whether they are ready to commit to schooling or a long-term job in a particular trade.

“It gives the students a chance to make a link that they normally wouldn’t have a chance to do. Normally, they wouldn’t be able to link up with tradesmen until after high school at least. This gives them the chance to test out a trade that they might like to do before they commit to it,” VanLanduyt said.

“Quite often we have students that don’t realize what the job is going to be like until they try it – sometimes they find they like it, and sometimes they find that they don’t. That’s the biggest benefit – it gives them a chance to see what’s available and to try things out without actually committing to it as a job yet.”

This partnership began over a decade ago and is still going strong. Students are able to access the program from a variety of school classes as long as they carry an interest in trades.

“We hand the house back over to Laebon after Christmas and then the kids finish the rest of the semester, which goes into January, because they’ll have class work and things to finish,” VanLanduyt said.

He said there are a few returning students, but for the most part, this is their first experience working with such a program.

Notre Dame offers a wide variety of courses that may be of interest to students in the skilled trades, from an automotive service technician course to electro-technology. Students who are interested in participating in the Building Opportunities Program may speak with school administration to enroll in the 2016 project.