H.J. Cody School is continually trying to improve the academic success of its students. According to teachers Jeremy Braitenbach and Darla Bell, one of the most successful means of doing this has been its off-campus learning programs – which currently have 124 students enrolled in work experience, the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) and the Green Certificate.
A pamphlet provided by Bell explained that each program allows students to earn high school credits towards their programs and also prepares them for life after high school by readying them for the workforce. The pamphlet stated that the Work Experience Program allows students to spend part of their day at school, and part in a workplace environment thus allowing students to explore their career options, while working towards their diploma at the same time.
The RAP program, according to Bell and Braitenbach, allows students to be full-time students and a registered apprentices. By the end of high school, the student receives their diploma and is automatically registered as a regular apprentice, the informationation sheet read. The Green Certificate is an Alberta-specific program that allows students to earn high school credits while working in the agricultural field. The program is a module program that awards the student with credits and also access to the first level of an agricultural apprenticeship.
Jerryd Wold, 18, will have successfully completed all three off-campus programs when he graduates this year. By completing these programs, Wold will finish high school with over 170 credits.
“As far as the Green Certificate goes, I worked on the farm with my dad,” he said. “It has proved to me that everything I have been doing and what I have been taught since 10-12 has been right. I was good at it, and could make my way in the field to make money from it. I am going to graduate with 170 – credits that I was hardly in a classroom for.”
The programs have allowed Wold to begin his career as a heavy-duty mechanic through RAP, and as a first year agricultural apprentice through the Green Program
“It is just a matter of working hard and doing what I love with that money,” Wold explained. “When I was in Grade 9 I got in the opportunity to work in a mechanic shop close to home and my employer there said ‘sign up for RAP or work experience.’ At that time I wasn’t old enough for RAP, but I signed up for work experience, where I got 20 credits from. I realized I wanted to be a heavy-duty mechanic and went from there.”
Wold is a huge supporter of these off-campus programs and credits Work-Experience Coordinator Bell – who has been helping himself and others through the process.
“We want them to see whether these jobs are fit for them, so they can decide whether they love this, or they hate it,” Bell explained. “It is meant to give them experience in the field, and Alberta Ed recognizes these students are learning something. You are learning to be at work on time, learning to take orders and learning new schools. Alberta Ed is happy to award credits based on that learning environment.”
Off-Campus Coordinator Braitenbach sees these programs as a way for more student to excel in high school.
“A lot of kids don’t fit into the traditional mold of sitting at a desk,” he said. “They want to get out and work, and start to experience things. They are more hands-on type people like Jerryd. For them to earn credits and be able to do that is just awesome. They are taking initiative and learning responsibility; they may not learn that in a classroom.”
According to Wold, support from the H.J. Cody staff has allowed Wold and students like him to balance their responsibilities with ease.
“Ms. Bell has been great with helping me getting my hours together,” Wold said. “It was really easy, and they helped manage your schedule. I work in the mornings now, and then come to classes in the afternoon.”
Wold added that any student looking to get into agriculture or trades should look into these programs.
“Definitely go and try it out,” he said. “If you can get into RAP, do it. If you are wanting to get into trades, you can see if you like it. It allows you to find out what you want to do after high school. I was stuck in a classroom for eight hours a day, instead of working. Now I work in the mornings and help on the farm – doing what I love.”
Bell added that the success of these programs has H.J. Cody looking at other avenues to help streamline student success after high school
“Chinook’s Edge has been trying to open up more opportunities for what is called School Without a College – a dual credit program,” she said. “Just recently, we ensured we had enough funding and Red Deer College has partnered with us. Six of our students within the division have the opportunity to finish their core requirements. Chinook’s Edge would then pay $5,800 towards their tuition at RDC to do what is called pre-employment trades. This makes them much more desirable to be hired as an apprentice. They receive a semester at RDC in either auto-mechanics or welding – from there they can be hired on as an apprentice. We are looking for students to be interested in that.”
Braitenbach added that the success of the RAP program has led to so much demand that the school is looking for help from the community to expand.
“One of the limitations is that we cannot find enough employers willing to take on kids in the RAP program, so we would love to see that expand,” he said.