The grand opening ceremony for the 2023-24 class of Building Futures was held on Oct. 5 at the Brookfield Community of Chinook Gate, where students of the program will spend the school year learning and working alongside experienced tradespeople.
“Students are asked to identify potential hazards, take proactive measures and anticipate their tasks all while representing this program, Rocky View Schools (RVS), and McKee Homes,” stated Building Futures teacher, Sean Root, at the grand opening.
Root alongside fellow teacher Ryan Koyzan will be leading 27 students through the program this year. They will work closely with McKee Homes’ construction superintendent and project manager for Building Futures, Sheri McAllister.
Aside from hands-on skills, Koyzan said students of the program learn that their future job opportunities depend on their performance and attitudes.
“Students arrive in this program for their first year of high school and often have never been employed before,” Koyzan said. “Here on this McKee Homes’ jobsite, students develop their employable characteristics through (things like) eye contact, firm handshakes, and expressions of gratitude. They're honing their confidence for later job interviews, and acquiring other intangibles like problem solving skills.”
Grade 10 students who are taking part in the hands-on program prepared speeches for the event and together put up a wall covered in blue footsteps from their work boots to show their participation and dedication to building the community.
“I want to have these skills so that in the future I have multiple ways to support myself,” said one student. “I’m hopeful that throughout this amazing journey I will find a trade that I love doing and pursue it.”
He added another reason for being part of the program was so he could help his dad with carpentry projects.
“Throughout my life I’ve seen how hard my dad works and how he had to learn most of his skills on his own,” the student said. “He’s become a jack-of-all-trades and someone we rely on to keep our house running.”
Building Futures is a full-year academic program for Grade 10 students offered in partnership with local builders in Airdrie and Cochrane. In addition to learning subjects like math, science, social studies and English, students work together to construct a house.
During the course of the project, students participate in most aspects of the building process, including framing, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, drywalling, painting and finishing.
Students also participate in field trips to learn more about trades, business, and entrepreneurship, according to RVS’ communications officer Ben Sherick.
“At RVS we are focused on building future ready students who will be prepared in any path they choose,” said Sherick. “The Building Futures Program offers students a truly unique learning experience and we are always impressed with how much they learn and how much they enjoy the program.”
The Airdrie program recently celebrated its 10th year during the 2022/23 school year.
“RVS is grateful to McKee for the unique learning experience they have helped to provide our students for over a decade,” said Sherick.
More information about Building Futures is available on www.rockyview.ab.ca