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Welcome to Garth Webb

Welcome to Garth Webb

Visitors to Garth Webb Secondary School will now be welcomed in thirty languages with the installation of a student-made, multilingual welcome sign. Mrs. Sharon Lauzon, Ms. Sylvia Avery, and the Safe and Inclusive School committee initiated the project. Garth Webb students participating in a Student Voice forum indicated that they wanted something that made them feel connected to the school and represented the Garth Webb student population and the community.

The original design concept was developed by Visual Arts teacher Ms. Casandra Ward. Under the guidance of Technological Design teacher Mr. Paul White, Grade 10 students Andrei Baderca, Bita Houdeh, Fouad Raouf-Alkadhimi, Brody Robertson, Aidan Scott, and Taylor Wood created a CAD/CAM file for each of the thirty "welcomes", making decisions about size, image file or font, wood species, type of cut, and choice of cutting tools. Each "welcome" was cut out, engraved, or embossed using a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) wood router. Students then sanded the individual pieces, glued them in place, and applied a clearcoat finish to the sign. No paint or stain was used. The sign's colourful appearance is due solely to the variety of wood species used in its construction, reflecting the diversity of Garth Webb community. During the first two weeks of July, four of the students involved volunteered over 30 hours of their summer holiday to see the project through to completion.

Nelson High Auto Show Raises Money and Awareness

Nelson High Auto Show Raises Money and Awareness

From Lamborghinis to classic cars, firefighters and barbecues – the Annual Auto Club Charity Auto Show at Nelson High School was the place to be on a sunny Friday afternoon! Tony Assenza's Auto Club members, many of them Automotive SHSM students, have been hard at work planning this event since the fall. Students chose a charity and were responsible for planning and promoting the event from start to finish, even down to creating the trophy for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place!

One of the highlights of the event was a demonstration by members of the Burlington Fire Department Vehicle Rescue Team. Onlookers riveted as they skillfully converted Ford Taurus station wagon into a sporty convertible. Chad Hammer provided commentary, reminding students how crucial it is to avoid common distractions like texting to prevent potentially fatal accidents. The firefighters – all off-duty volunteers – were convincingly serious, treating the demonstration with the same intensity as they would a real-life accident, and the crowd applauded when they finally lifted off the car roof and carefully extracted the victim.

The rescue demonstration took place thanks to long-time Nelson Automotive program supporter Douglas Annett of Oakville’s Skid Control School, who donated the car and invited the fire department team. “I've donated cars to the school before, and I’ve seen the firefighters do this before. I thought it would be great here, so just I made a few calls,” Annett explained. With the prevalence of distracted driving among teenagers, the team was glad to have the opportunity to bring this public safety message to students in a truly memorable way.

The show included many other members of the community as well. Several local auto dealerships, including Mercedes-Benz of Burlington, John Deere, Budd’s BMW, as well as many students and private collectors displayed a variety of new, exotic, and classic cars. This free show was open to the public and proceeds from the student-run car wash and barbecue benefited the Carpenter Hospice, making the Auto Show an all-around community event – Be sure to look for it again next year!

Welding Students Have A Chance to Shine

Welding Students Have A Chance to Shine

Yvan Poulin’s Welding/Manufacturing SHSM at Robert Bateman High School contains one of the most diverse groups of students you could find. Between one youth who opened his year with a Gold at Ontario Skills and another who struggled with disengagement and other issues before making a complete turnaround, this is a program with the potential to grab a student’s interest and make them anxious to learn more.

One of the great advantages of the SHSM programs is that students have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications. Last week an inspector from the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB)was examining students for their FLAT certification, one of four “tickets” they could earn before the end of the year. CWB Welding Inspector Tony Pisano comes to examine the students, but never forgets that they are still young. He always takes the time to chat and put them at ease. Even while examining pieces, he was answering a student’s questions about his own career and education. Rather than taking a “pass/fail” approach, wherever possible he explains their mistakes and sends them back to try again, making the examination a learning experience.

The CWA is very supportive of the SHSM program, supporting it with fundraisers such as an annual golf tournament. Pisano says that this type of hands-on programming provides students with a great start in high school. Students can try out a trade like welding and discover whether they have an interest and aptitude for it before committing to a costly college program. Grade 12 student Liam is completing his first year of Welding and loves it. His interest in the trades started during his grade 9 auto rotation. He got “stuck” on welding when one of his teachers let him do some welds on his truck. He wound up putting together a truck cab and looked at it, thinking, “NO WAY I just did that!” Looking back, he realizes that was the “a-ha” moment that brought him to Yvan’s Welding class. He plans to come back next year to earn more “tickets” and build his skills and maybe head out West to work after graduation. “Some people don’t like that you have to work hard and Mr. Poulin’s always on you, but I love that!”

If you like excitement and working with your hands and have an eye for detail, the Welding SHSM at Robert Bateman might be just the right fit for you – visit to learn more!

Georgetown SHSM students “HELP!” Their School and Community Through FIT Day


When Donna Norrie and the other teachers designing the Justice, Community Safety, and Emergency Services SHSM at Georgetown District High School tried to capture the essence of the program, they found that those technical words just didn’t cut it. What do all of these students really want to do? they asked. The answer was simple – they want to HELP! – and so the Halton Emergency and Legal Preparedness (HELP!) Program was born.

The majority of the students in the HELP! program are considering careers in which they will be dedicated to making their community a safer place – police, nursing, paramedicine, law, and corrections, to name a few. HELP! is spread over 2 years during which students sit in their regular core classes while being invited out to reach-ahead opportunities that fit with their particular focus, such as a visit to a Legal Aid Clinic or a trip to a Canada/US border crossing.

FIT Day gave these students an opportunity to come together and put their community focus into action while developing planning, problem-solving and teamwork skills. The purpose of FIT day is to promote healthy lifestyles through fun fitness challenges and support the community by collecting canned items for the Food Bank. FIT Day was also tied in with Mental Health Week and included presentations and displays from the school’s Leadership Classes and “Disable the Label” campaign.

The entire student body was invited to participate, and many teachers and even one police officer took part in challenges like the tire flip, parachute run, and military crawl. One grade 9 student who tried all of the challenges said simply, “Today is the BEST!”Grade 12 student Kristyn Hubbert put in hours of work behind the scenes to make the day a success, but said that it was all worth it because that is the spirit of HELP! In the future, Kristyn plans to pursue Disability Studies. She thought HELP! seemed like a good fit to explore her options and gain some work experience, but her real “a-ha” moment came during her co-op placement in a disabilities classroom. Even on the worst of days, she found, she looked forward to coming to work, and she knew she was in the right place.

Besides FIT Day, the highlight of HELP! for many students was the camping trip to North Bay, where they got to know each other and did amazing activities like tree-top trekking (as well as earning their required GPS certification). When asked whether other students should consider the program, all of the HELP! students said the same thing – try it! Grade 11 Konrad Posberg elaborated, “Do it. Life is full of opportunities – you can’t just leave it.”

ECE Students Moved by Experience at Aboriginal Head Start Program

ECE Students Moved by Experience at Aboriginal Head Start Program

The students in Alijcia Gibson’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Dual Credit Program were profoundly impacted by their visit to the Niwasa Head Start Preschool, a program for at-risk First Nations children in Hamilton. The six high-school students had the unique opportunity of observing the children’s circle time and taking part in a smudging ceremony. Alijcia made the connection with Niwasa through a former co-worker and is committed to exposing her students to a diverse range of experiences. She feels that visiting Niwasa heightens their awareness of the importance of early learning programs for children in at-risk populations.

Niwasa’s mission is “to provide programs and services for Aboriginal children, youth, families and community that are rooted in culture and language.” Niwasa employs a cultural facilitator and qualified language teachers. At no cost to parents, Niwasa offers children aged 2.5-5 years a half-day program in “a culturally inclusive learning environment with qualified Aboriginal Early Childhood Education teachers, nutritious meals, and the services of a Family Support Coordinator.”

The ECE students were unfamiliar with the history of residential schools in Canada, but after Alijcia led a discussion about the impact of residential schools on First Nations cultural identity, they began to understand the importance of programs such as Niwasa. Looking back, students like Taylor (18) and Sarah (17) found themselves deeply moved by the experience of watching these young children smudge, identify birds by their sounds, and carry a doll in a sling. Erica (17) came in expecting to simply hear about aboriginal cultural practices, but found the traditions, artefacts, and language completely integrated into the program. Compared to a privately funded and highly modernized early learning centre that they had visited previously, all of the students found Niwasa to be a warmer and less institutional environment.

The ECE Dual Credit Program at Lester B. Pearson High School is a one-semester program team-taught by a high school teacher and two Mohawk College instructors. Students complete 4 courses and spend 3 days a week in placement to gain valuable hands-on experience, earning 4 high school credits and 2 college credits (at no cost for either textbooks or tuition). Students also take part in frequent trips to Mohawk College and other field trips, such as this one to Niwasa, to enrich their learning experience. This program can lead to any of the 5 destinations (Apprenticeship, College, Community, University, and Work) and is an ideal Pathway for any student who wants to learn more about child development, earn college credits at no cost, and is drawn to a challenging, hands-on learning environment. For more information, visit

Getting Down to Business with RidgeBiz Talks

Getting Down to Business with RidgeBiz Talks

The Business SHSM students at Iroquois Ridge High School have been working hard since last fall to put together this conference, modeled after the popular “TED Talks.” This year’s conference was built around the theme of real estate and welcomed four leaders in the industry to discuss all different aspects of the business.

The goal of RidgeBiz Talks is to broaden attendees’ horizons by offering a bridge between theoretical and practical skills, demonstrating the importance of applying their business knowledge they have gained in class as well as giving them an opportunity to practice practical skills like networking and team-building.

Approximately 300 students from Iroquois Ridge HS and Craig Kielburger Secondary School were inspired by presentations from Donna Messer, networking guru and former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office on issues relating to women in business; Alvaro Perez, international real estate entrepreneur; Karim Talakshi, multilingual mortgage specialist with TD Canada Trust; and Andrea Green, a lawyer specializing in a variety of corporate and commercial matters including the financing, purchase and sale of commercial properties. The conference also included workshops like an international business simulation that combined fun with fast-paced, hands-on experience.

Iroquois Ridge’s Business SHSM may only be 3 years old, but it is already attracting students from other schools. According to the program lead, Al Samsa, these students are self-sufficient, dedicated, and “a cut above regular business students.” Reach-ahead programming and co-op placements allow students to gain confidence and real-life business experience – not to mention bolstering post-secondary applications for the students who choose those destinations.

Whatever your destination, if you are hoping to gain serious business experience and knowledge and take part in opportunities like planning and attending conferences to learn from leaders in the industry, the Business SHSM might be just the Pathway for you! For more information on SHSM programs in Halton, visit

Two Students, Two Destinations, Two Pathways

Two Students, Two Destinations, Two Pathways

Jack Fairs and Kamal Gill are grade 11 students at White Oaks Secondary School. Both have taken auto every semester since grade 9. They are competing as a team at the 25th in the Small Powered Equipment competition, taking apart small engines and rebuilding them to working standards. But that is where the similarities end. Jack wants to become a licensed auto mechanic. To do that, he will do the OYAP program at White Oaks, hopefully leading to an apprenticeship when he graduates.

Kamal plans to go into automotive engineering. To get there, he will take the Transportation SHSM at White Oaks and apply to university. These two young men are very clear on their plans and articulate about their reasons. When asked about apprenticeship, Jack says, “It’s the simplest way to get into the trade... You get the most hands on experience, which is probably the most important thing in the field.” Kamal, on the other hand, when asked about university, says, “I’ve always been good at learning from others, so when I’m in a classroom environment, I’m more effective than when I’m in a shop environment, and when I’m in the shop environment, I also get the skills, and then I don’t just know the theory, I can actually apply the theory.”

Whichever Pathway they choose, Jack and Kamal are sure to get a solid background – Mark Rullo, a first-time Skills judge and licensed auto mechanic who has supervised many co-op students in another board, says that the OYAP and SHSM students he is seeing at the competition are excelling: Automotive Technology, he says, “seems like more than just a credit to them.” It sounds like these Pathways are the perfect fit for these two young men who know what they want out of life! For more information on finding your own Pathway to your ideal Destination, visit

Film Students Producing Great Things at Skills

Film Students Producing Great Things at Skills

One of the most interesting aspects of the Halton Skills Competition is the high level of student involvement – not only in the competitions, but also in planning and implementing the event itself. The closing ceremonies, for example, were produced entirely by the Film, TV and Movie Production class taught by Dale Andrews at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville.

This double credit class boasts an impressive record of graduates making a future for themselves in the film industry. This year 15 students are heading to film school, and alumni are working on films such as Amazing Spiderman 2 as well as TV series like Amazing Race Canada, Rich Bride Poor Bride, and Game of Thrones. Andrews notes that he doesn't send a lot of students on to introductory jobs because of a combination of the high knowledge level they have entering university, which lets them move with ease into leadership roles, as well as the fact that people in industry now recognize the White Oaks name and expect high quality work.

The 14 students in the group at Skills are divided into pairs – one videographer and one editor – each responsible for making a 30 second video to highlight each of the 39-40 events. Now, if you're thinking that sounds like a walk in the park, imagine your entire day divided into 30 minute blocks – 5 minutes travel time, 20 minutes of filming, 5 minutes to travel back – and in that time, you need to capture some great footage for your editor to cut back to one epic 30 second video. The editor doesn't get any time off either – he or she will be using every second of that 30 minutes to produce that video, finishing just in time to receive the next set of footage. This timing took 3 intense days of training to perfect.

One final pair is in charge of the 3 minute highlight video that will set the tone for the closing ceremonies – it will have to be fast-paced with a great song and highlights of all of the events. And the work isn't over when the videos are finished either – these students will also be setting up and testing out the equipment before literally running the show.

Grade 12 student Masha Potapov is one of the editors, and managed to spare a few minutes to chat while waiting for her videographer to return. Before she started this class, she had no idea what she wanted to do, so a film class seemed as good a choice as any. Her “A-HA” moment came in grade 10 when the music video she had made was entered in the Halton Film Festival. After the shock of winning FIRST place wore off, Masha felt, “I can do this! I can succeed at this!” and hasn't looked back. Even in the middle of the high-stress situation of producing these Skills videos, when asked “What would you say to someone thinking about taking this course?” Masha’s answer was an emphatic, “DO IT! That’s all I can say… They're not going to regret it!”

If you have a passion for film or are simply interested in a fast-paced academic and technical challenge, the Film, TV and Movie Production class at White Oaks might be just the place for you.

Engineering, Electronics and Excitement at FIRST Regionals in North Bay

Engineering, Electronics and Excitement at FIRST Regionals in North Bay

Article by Karyn Pickles

Nipissing University/Canadore College campus was abuzz with electricity as it hosted the Northern Regionals of the FIRST Robotics competition (March 28-29, 2014). Thirty-six teams from across Ontario including seven from Halton vied for a spot in Nationals and the competition was fierce.

This year's challenge was issued at the FIRST Kickoff Event in January and was heralded as the toughest ever. To recap, 2014’s event is called Aerial Assist. Alliances of three teams compete to score goals with 24” exercise balls. The match starts with a 10 second autonomous mode where robots try to earn points without human intervention. After that, the human team members take control of the robot and one human player joins the game, interacting with the ball and robots from the side of the field. Teams defend their own goals and bonus points are earned by passing from player to player before scoring. Professional referees monitor the action and deduct foul points when needed.

The event opened with remarks from Blair Hundertmark, Production Developer at FIRST, who reminded us, “FIRST is not about robots, not about playing a game on a field…It’s about preparing to solve life’s problems,” before introducing dignitaries including Dr. Mike DeGagné, President of Nipissing University, and Al McDonald, Mayor of North Bay.

Honoring the rich First Nations heritage of the land, Dr. DeGagné welcomed a drum circle of talented native Nipissing students and teachers to play an honour song welcoming us to their traditional lands.

Teams came prepared with mascots, costumes, face paint, signs, glow sticks, swag, and busloads of supporters! With the pounding music, hundreds of cheering fans, vendors hawking popcorn and cotton candy, and sequin-jacketed announcers going wild, the atmosphere was somewhere between hockey playoffs and a Tragically Hip concert.

Dr. DeGagné asked, “How are we going to move forward with innovation, ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurship in this province? The answer is RIGHT HERE,” and that is clearly true. The strategies these students have to consider when building their robots are mind blowing. They need to consider defense, scoring, speed, power…Do you build a robot that can do an okay job at everything or one that can do an exceptional job at one or two, just hoping you’re matched with teams that will fill in the gap? Do you go for fast and light to evade other bots or heavy and powerful enough to push your way through?

After they make these decisions in the design stage, teams use all the skills at their disposal – engineering, machining, programming, to name a few – to build the robots. And other skills are just as valuable – a business-minded student is a major asset for advertising and securing sponsorship, and a film student could make your robot a Youtube sensation with a promo video.

Then they have to choose their players: Each team needs two drivers who know the robot inside and out and work together seamlessly to control the robot’s movement and shooting; a human player who will take part in game play, passing the ball to earn assist points and analyzing gameplay as they go; and finally a drive coach, an adult mentor who offers insight and strategy from the sidelines. They also have to consider a spokesperson to confidently describe their planning and process to the judges as well as other team members to work in the pit to make repairs and minor modifications between rounds.

Finally, the team members off the field have an important job too – During Friday’s qualifying rounds, all team members who weren't active on the field were responsible for scouting players from the other teams and re-coding their findings. After the events wrapped up on Friday, the teams met at their hotels to present their findings and strategize for Saturday’s Alliance Selection, a process that took until almost midnight. After the qualifying matches, one member of each team gathered in the queuing area for alliance selection – not an easy task, since they have to be prepared to make a split section decision to strategically accept or decline alliance requests on behalf of their teams.

The weekend was a blur of action and excitement for the teams and their supporters. Although none of the Halton teams took the championship, all seven made the play-offs, including one all-HDSB alliance of three robots. They made themselves and their schools proud and had a great time sharing in the philosophy of 'Gracious Professionalism' that sets FIRST apart from other high school competitions.

Breanne Curran Going for Gold at Halton Skills

Breanne Curran Going for Gold at Halton Skills

Karyn Pickles

Grade 12 student Breanne Curran is eager to test her “metal” at the 25th annual Halton Skills Competition. Breanne will be competing in Precision Machining, and as one of only 2 female students in her class, is out to prove herself. Jeff Pilszak, Head of Technology, Business and Computers at M.M. Robinson High School, has been teaching Breanne since grade 9 and says that as one of the best precision machining students he has seen, she has a good chance of taking Gold and moving on to Provincials.

Now planning to pursue a career managing a machine shop, Breanne’s interest in technology and manufacturing classes was sparked when she took a tech rotation in grade 9. After that, she says, “I started and I haven’t been able to leave them!” As one of very few female students in her classes, she says that it can definitely be intimidating at first, “but as soon as you realize that you can do things just as well as [the guys], you become so much more confident and it kind of becomes like a competition. Because the guys want to think that they’re going to do so much better than you...and you kind of show them that it’s not just a male environment anymore.”

Breanne would love to see more female students in tech programs and says to those considering it, “Give it a try. You can take one semester and try a course. If you’re thinking about it and you love it, take it again; if you don’t, then you tried it, and you’re not going to regret it.”

Between honing her skills in the Manufacturing OYAP program, earning accolades at her co-op placement, competing with Team 2200 at the FIRST Robotics North Bay Regionals, and preparing to compete at Halton Skills, Breanne definitely has her hands full, and we wish her luck! Visit to learn more.

Today’s Skills for Tomorrow's Future

Skills Competition

'If you are a dreamer, come in...'
-Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

Imagine if, in high school, you could be not just learning but actually doing the things you are passionate about. Imagine if, as a teenager, you could be recognized for your skills at the local, provincial, national, and international level. Imagine if there was a place where you could come together with others who share your passion and drive and inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

On April 3, 2014, more than 1100 students will participate in the 25th anniversary of the Halton Skills Competition at M. M. Robinson High School, and four times that number of grade 4-12 students will be there to cheer them on. Technological education in Halton is growing by leaps and bounds as we realize the growing potential of the skilled employment job market in Canada. Community partnerships and industry sponsors have enabled Halton high schools to build incredible resources for hands-on skills development where students can discover their passion and even get a head start on post-secondary education and job training.

Skills Competitions give students a chance to showcase and be recognized for their technological skills right up to the international level. It is becoming more and more evident that these skills are going to be in high demand in the future of our country, and these competitions celebrate those skills and the hard work of the students pursuing them – In fact, 'the future of our country depends on students like these,' attests Dave Lewis, Coordinator, Technological Education and Pathways (HDBS).

Halton’s continued focus on recognizing the benefits of technological education and growing this sector mean that this year’s Halton Skills Competition should be more exciting than ever, and we expect Halton’s students to amaze you! Visit to learn more.


Career Coaches Unlimited at Milton Hospital

Career Coaches Unlimited at Milton Hospital

Wow - What an amazing morning at Career Coaches Unlimited last Tuesday - Thank you the Milton Hospital and our Mentors for creating an informative and inspiring morning for our Halton students interested in pursuing Healthcare careers. Scrubs anyone?

For more information about Career Coaches Unlimited please visit

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Pathways Information Nights A Great Success

Pathways Information Nights A Great Success

Pathways Information Nights A Great Success

Article written by Karyn Pickles

Thursday, January 30, 2014 marked the final Halton Pathways Information Night, bringing to a close a successful series of 8 evenings that allowed parents and students to experience what high schools in Halton have to offer. At these evenings, close to 3000 people attended an engaging presentation about how Pathways is addressing the changing face of the Canadian economy and employment, as well as the opportunity to ask questions of teachers from various programs. Parents are a huge influence in students' decisions, so Pathways is committed to providing both parents and students with the background they need be engaged in this process.

The main points that these presentations emphasize is that today’s students have multiple options – There are many destinations for them to choose from and many different 'paths' that will get them there. The Pathways initiative is about recognizing diversity and finding the right fit for each individual student. The global economy is changing and we are seeing an increase in skilled job opportunities needing apprenticeship, college, and university experience, and Pathways can help students get there. The goal of Pathways planning and programs is to prepare our children for the future, helping them to find success and joy in learning while on the way to a destination that relates to their interests, skills, and abilities.

Students leaving high school currently can expect to arrive at one of five destinations: Apprenticeship, College, Community, University, and Work. Each of these destinations has its own advantages, given the changing employment landscape. The Pathways presentations are overcoming the assumption that any one is more valuable than the others!

Halton offers a variety of programs to reach these destinations that can be tailored to each individual student for the best fit with their interests and abilities. Pathways programs like the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and the Specialist High-Skills Major (SHSM) let students 'test-drive' a career through work experience, earning credits and valuable job experience at the same time. With Dual Credit programs, students can even reach ahead to earn college credits while completing their high school diploma. And Employability Skills Certificates (ESC), based on the elements of SHSM, offer students in the Life Skills program a background in their field of interest to prepare them for potential employment. Students can also cross-register between programs and locations, remain involved in extracurriculars at their home school, and apply for alternative experiences such as the Bronte Creek Project, in order to customize the path that works best for them – the possibilities are virtually endless!

If you missed the information nights this year, check out for more information on Pathways programs. Be sure to visit to explore high school courses and create a plan for high school and beyond – for example, you can choose a final destination and MyBlueprint will show you the Pathways and the steps that could take you there. Through Pathways, Halton District School Board is demonstrating its commitment to educating and positioning students for success in our changing world.

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FIRST Robotics Teams Kick-Off the Season with their Toughest Challenge Ever

State Farm

On Saturday, January 4, 2014, instead of trying to squeeze a few more moments of relaxation out of the final weekend of vacation, around 400 students, parents, teachers, administrators, and members of industry went back to school. Clearly the excitement of the HDSB FIRST Robotics Kick-Off at the New Street Education Centre was much more important than taking the day off. The FIRST vision is “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders,” and the students who came out today are obviously excited about that prospect.

Dave Lewis, coordinator of technological education and Pathways at HDSB, opened the day-long event with the news that the students participating today would earn a Level I Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Certification through their participation. He reminded them about the many other benefits and programs linked to Robotics, including Period 6 Robotics, Dual Credit Robotics, Night School Robotics, Specialist High Skills Majors in Manufacturing and Information and Communications Technology, regular Technological Education, and the new Girls in Technology program being taught at M.M. Robinson. Members of FIRST Robotics teams presented Eric Tate and Rob Farrell of Eaton Canada and Councillor Tom Adams, accepting on behalf of Hatch, with FIRST regional competition winning banners to recognize those companies’ generous contributions to Halton Robotics teams.

John Bordignon of State Farm then took the floor to congratulate everyone involved in FIRST Robotics and to present a $100,000 cheque – the largest amount State Farm has ever awarded to a single program. It’s no wonder State Farm is impressed with Halton’s FIRST Robotics program. Bordignon said that FIRST fits State Farm’s focus on community involvement and youth education perfectly. Not only do FIRST participants devote much of their spare time to designing, building, and programming these incredible robots and travel as far as South Carolina, Texas, and North Bay to compete, they also embody the FIRST philosophy of “Gracious Professionalism.” Can you name any other elite sport where teams compete against each other in one round and then join up as teammates a few minutes later in an alliance round? Not to mention the fact that many FIRST team members also volunteer their precious spare time to mentoring their younger counterparts in VEX Robotics. (In fact, in Halton students can participate in robotics programs from Kindergarten up to high school graduation.)

The moment the FIRST Teams had been waiting for came at 10:45 when the live broadcast from NASA TV began. The students waited in silence to hear the challenge facing FIRST Teams across North America this season – rumoured to be the most difficult ever. The announcement did not disappoint: Features of this year’s challenge include multiple scoring zones and bonus opportunities, competition in both autonomous and human-driver modes, and human player participation, with a focus on teamwork between robots on the playing field. There was an audible gasp when they heard that one goal area was worth 10 points, and the room became a buzz of conversation as teams broke off to work on their preliminary designs.It is shaping up to be an extraordinary season in Halton Robotics, and these dedicated students are clearly up to the challenge!

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Making the Connection: Healthcare Students Get Real World Experience at Burloak Long Term Care


This past Friday, students from Lilla Richardson’s Healthcare and Medical Technologies program at Robert Bateman High School finished three weeks of job shadowing at Burloak Long Term Care Facility. Though these 15 and 16 year old students in the Health and Wellness Specialized High Skills Major (SHSM) started out nervous about the unfamiliar experience looming before them, by week three they looked like professional PSWs, supporting residents in their day to day tasks with confidence.

This year marks Lilla’s second year partnering with the long!term care facility, and she says the experience is invaluable for these students. Even though they practice on each other in the classroom, as grade 11 student Sarah notes, it can't compare to actually working with the residents. "Other students will roll over for you when you ask them to!"

Her classmates agree that the experience has been eye opening. Alexis (17) entered the program without any solid direction and Lilla says that the change in her energy and enthusiasm since September has been remarkable; but because of this experience, Alexis now plans to get her PSW certificate and work part-time after graduation before going to university to study psychology. Other students in the course hope to pursue nursing, medicine, and radiation radiology, and previous grads have gone on to paramedic and dental hygiene training. Another unanticipated benefit that Lilla points out is that such a comprehensive experience helps some students to realize that this may NOT be what they want to do with their lives and they can choose another path.

Each Halton high school offers a different focus, so as well as Healthcare and Medical Technologies at Robert Bateman, students could choose Fitness, Exercise Science, or Healthy Active Living, among others, and can cross register for the focus that most interests them. Students in the Health and Wellness SHSM in Halton will graduate with 4 major credits, 3 supporting credits, a 2 credit co-op placement, and additional certifications such as Standard First Aid, CPR, and WHMIS plus industry-specific electives like defibrillator training or personal trainer certificate. On graduation, students will move on to apprenticeship, college, university, or work with a wealth of both classroom learning and real-life experience under their belts.

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Mr. Vicic's grade 10 Manufacturing Club at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary school

Manufacturing Club at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary school

After significant interest was expressed by students at Notre Dame to have an after school club in Manufacturing throughout the school year – Mr. Vicic responded to the need. Once the numbers have been established there will be regular meetings after school for students to collaboratively make decisions made about costing out projects, equipment and consumables. There is a focus on promoting skilled trades to our female students. One of the first projects is the creation of a Notre Dame Christmas Ornament.

With a heavenly glow over their welding helmets, a smile on their faces and the anticipation of the arc, these grade 10 girls are experiencing learning as woman in skilled trades. The Notre Dame Manufacturing club consists of nine grade 10 girls experiencing real world fusion welding technology through a project that will see them fabricate and weld a decorative candle holder. Other learned skills will be G code computer programming, this skill will be used to bring to life a Notre Dame Christmas ornament that will be mass produced and sold within the ND community, all proceeds going to Christmas fundraising. Supporting the girls are eight grade 10 boys who have experienced Mr.Vicic's grade 9 program, or are currently taking the grade 10 program. This specific project is sponsored by the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program’s Special funding for the 2013-14 school year which has been provided to schools choosing to run a workshop, event, club that promotes skilled trades within our female high school student population.

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Robotics in the ring: Young Innovators Test Their Skills

Students Compete in Largest HDSB VEX Competition Ever
Event Photo

More than 350 grade 7 and 8 students from across Halton District School Board competed this Saturday at the VEX Super Saturday Robotics Championship. It was an exciting day of competition and fun for all involved! Robots battled each other in 4 arenas as teams vied for the coveted top 13 spots – the trick for these 11-13 year-olds was to keep their minds in the game while also scouting the competition for potential partners for the Alliance rounds. The excitement was in the air as these talented middle-schoolers competed, cheered on by parents and siblings. The coaches, mostly elementary teachers with no prior robotics experience, watched anxiously to see which teams would advance to the finals.

Chris Arnold (Burlington Central High School) saw a need and got involved in the robotics program in Halton 18 years ago. Chris is a teacher lead for the Specialist High Skills Major in Manufacturing, a path many of these young students may choose to follow, and which could lead them to apprenticeship, college (earning college credits along the way), university, or directly into the skilled workforce. Robotics across HDSB now encompasses all grades, with Lego Robotics for grades K-8, VEX for grades 7-8, and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics at the high school level. HDSB VEX Robotics is coordinated by Dave Hammel of M. M. Robinson High School and involves 20 elementary schools across Halton. The teams competing today were mentored by about 100 FIRST Robotics competitors and even by graduates who come back year after year to volunteer at competitions.

From its humble beginnings, robotics has now grown to the largest extracurricular activity at BCHS, and the reasons are obvious: Robotics programs provide an engrossing hands-on learning experience with elements of competition and cooperation – or “co-opertition,” as the students have termed it. One coach said her students spend four hours a week at VEX and would stay longer if she didn't kick them out. Her students echoed that sentiment, saying the four hours “Isn’t long enough!!” (They then excused themselves to race to adjust and reattach the malfunctioning claw on their robot before their next competition.)

At the end of the day, hundreds of middle school students and their coaches lived the philosophy of “gracious professionalism,” had a great time and left with a sense of a job well done.

Karyn Pickles

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Archived Articles:

  • Posted October 31/2013 : It is the ZOMBIE WALK - Hosted by Hairstyling OYAP students from Robert Bateman High School.
  • Posted April 4/2012 : The Halton Skills Competition has been featured in Inside Halton. Click here for more information.


An Employer Perspective: Longo’s Walkers Line Making a Difference in our community

Posted by: Halton Industry Education Council

For Longo’s Store Manager, Luis Caetano, and Assistant Store Manager, Maria Condello, welcoming cooperative education students with special needs into their store is their way of giving back to the community. Longo’s Walkers Line has been a staple in the Burlington community for over a decade, and for the past five years Luis and Maria have worked with many cooperative education students from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School by providing them with numerous co-op opportunities at their location. 

“It’s just about helping the community and being involved,” says Luis, a strong believer in the value of cooperative education.

Longo’s Walkers Line first began accepting cooperative education students back in 1997 and the following year started taking in students with special needs.  Both Luis and Maria find it very rewarding for both the store and the students involved, and that’s why they keep welcoming more students each year.

Manager Maria Condello and General Manager
Luis Caetano at their Longo’s location on Walkers
Line, Burlington.

Since each student is different and has unique needs, Luis and Maria work together with the department manager to customize the student’s position to help them get the most from their experience. The process is simple: each year a cooperative education teacher from Notre Dame connects with Luis to discuss how many positions are available. Once the students have been selected they are given a Longo’s uniform, a tour of the store and a customized position. Most of the time the students find their way to the bakery or packaging areas, where they get to interact with fellow employees and customers while learning new skills.

“Working here helps the students with their self-esteem,” says Maria, whose face lights up when she talks about the students she’s worked with. “They build friendships with other employees and become part of the team.”

When asked about the benefit of having these students in their store, Luis says that it is great to have the help, but the most important thing is “even if you are having a bad day, just to see them makes you have a better day.”

Luis encourages all local businesses to do as they do and welcome co-op students to their workplace. He says that the experience is rewarding both to the students and the business owner – so there is nothing to lose.

Luis and Maria have experienced many student success stories. Most of the special needs cooperative education students continue on past their placement and begin supportive employment. “They are helping us, and we are helping them in return,” says Luis who continues to see growth in independence and self-esteem in the special needs students.

Longo’s Walkers Line was chosen to be featured in this article by Passport to Prosperity Coordinator Greg Murray, because he felt they were a prime example of a great community success story. As a Passport to Prosperity Coordinator with the Halton Industry Education Council, Greg works with employers all across Halton Region to find experiential learning placements for students.

“Longo’s has risen to the challenge of providing meaningful, purposeful employment experience for special needs students,” says Greg. “They have created a supportive work environment that nurtures and benefits student learning. At the same time they have seen their employees benefit from the special mentoring bond that develops when working with these students. This is more than giving back to the community; this is helping to build a community.” 

On behalf of all residents in Burlington, we thank you Luis and Maria for your continued commitment to our students and community.

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OnSorts (On-Line Student OYAP Registration and Tracking System) Use OnSorts to keep your post-secondary endeavours up-to-date, show your interest in apprenticeship or coop studies, or just to learn more about your options.
ALL HCDSB students must meet with their guidance counsellor or Lead teacher to apply to a program currently running in this school year. 

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