Greater Fort Erie Secondary School manufacturing technology students Ashton Doneff, left, Riley Held and Turner Parton will be heading to manufacturing apprenticeship positions after graduation. - Kris Dube , Special to The Niagara Falls Review
Students in Greater Fort Erie Secondary School's manufacturing technology program are building careers immediately after graduation.
As the new high school approaches the completion of its first academic year, the class of 2018 is looking forward to spending the upcoming summer with friends and family before heading to college or university.
But some are headed a different route and will pursue apprenticeships and further certifications in various trades.
Some might become millwrights, boilermakers, welders, whatever path they choose thanks to what they've already learned through the course at GFESS and the state-of-the-art, industry-standard equipment it provides, some of it donated by local companies.
"The idea is to prepare kids for apprenticeships — and we're lucky to have a lot of partnerships in town," said teacher Paul Bernier.
Many of the students enrolled in the program already have a knack for being handy — tinkering at home on their own or with a relative.
This gives them a major advantage at the start of the semester before getting acquainted with the apparatus they have the opportunity to use.
"Most homes and little workshops don't have this kind of equipment," said Bernier, referring to a mill recently donated by the Fort Erie-based company McDonco Machine Ltd.
"These kids are using something that's already out there in the working world."
Turner Parton, a Grade 12 student counting down the days to graduation, won't be moving to a dorm room next September.
He'll be starting his apprenticeship with an engine manufacturer in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
He said at the start of school year, getting into the trades was something that crossed his mind, but now he's excited that's he made the choice.
"Before, it was just sort of an idea, and now it's becoming a reality," he said.
Parton said what he's gained at GFESS is a "stepping stone" for what he plans to learn along the way.
"You really can't take something like this for granted," he said.
Riley Held will join the team at McDonco Machine Ltd. on Helena Street, saying that he benefited from the GFESS program by being able to build on the knowledge and the skill set he had when he started.
"It helped us apply more knowledge to what we already knew," said Held.
by Kris Dube Special to The Niagara Falls Review