University ONE students Emma Mercer

High school students get a head start at NIC

With second semester now in full swing, Carihi students are already counting down the days until summer vacation.

For Grade 12 students, this means one more semester until they are walking across the graduation stage to receive their diploma and enter the working world.  Many of these graduating students will be moving on to some form of post-secondary education and Carihi offers many opportunities for these students to get a head start.

“There are two definite pathways a student can take after graduation,” says Jeff Lontayo, Carihi’s career counsellor.  “One is to take trades training through a college and the other is going to university.”

Carihi tries to help students enter their desired pathway before they’ve even received their diploma.

“If a student is very focused on taking a trade and they know what trade they want to get into, in their Grade 12 year, they can take ‘ACE-IT’ through North Island College (NIC),” said Lontayo.

ACE-IT allows high school students to take their level one technical training during their final year of high school.

“Typically, a trade will have four levels of training and each level has a work part and a technical part, which is the schooling part,” said Lontayo. “What we’re trying to offer is the schooling part of their first-year training so that when these kids cross that stage in June, they can say they have their level one training and will be well on their way to their apprenticeship training.”

There are currently 11 Grade 12 students from Carihi at NIC taking trades courses through ACE-IT.

Mackenzie Martin has been enrolled in culinary arts since September.

“I found out about the program during my second semester of Grade 11,” she said.

She chose this route because it was something she already knew she enjoyed doing.

“I had previous experience in kitchens, so it’s mostly been refining what I already knew,” she said.

Martin noted that the transition into college has been quite comfortable.

When asked if she’d recommend the experience to future Grade 12 students, Martin said: “Just do it! If it’s something you think you’ll enjoy in the long run, try it out while the tuition is paid for. Even if you wind up hating it, it could still lead to a job one day.”

The other option for Grade 12 students wanting to get a head start on their post-secondary education is “University ONE.” Its main purpose is to help ease the transition from high school to university and allow students to enrol in two University Transferable courses at NIC during their second semester of Grade 12. Students enrolled receive high school graduation credits as well as first-year university credits. Tuition for these courses is also covered by the Ministry of Education.

There are 10 students from Carihi currently enrolled in the program.

Ramona Solway is certain university is the path she is going to take. She plans to study literature at the University of Victoria. Knowing her field of interest so early, Solway focused on taking humanities courses rather than inundating herself with extra maths and sciences. She jumped at the opportunity to take first-year psychology and English at NIC.

“Getting started on university early seemed like a really good idea to me,” she said. “It’s a really nice program and is a good alternative for non-traditional students like myself.”

But the program isn’t designed solely for students like Solway who focus on humanities.  Christina Kelly hopes to go into nursing and has chosen to take University ONE to get two of her first-year courses out of the way. Kelly loves the experience so far.

“They pay for the two courses, which is really helpful,” she said. “The classes are small and it’s very adept to our learning. We have tons of support, which is great! Mr. Lontayo has organized it so that Tuesdays and Thursdays, we can come to school and work with him and guest speakers that are going to help us prepare for the college experience and how we can deal with it when we’re on our own.”