Jumpstart Newsletter - Fall 2023

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Skills Ontario Junk Drawer Races

By:  Virginia Me, Wellington Public School

In early November, a small group of Grade 8 students at Wellington Public School expressed interest in participating in the Skills Ontario Junk Drawer Races. With one month until the deadline, the students went to work on the competition. Since students had not covered the Fluids unit yet in their science class, they conducted their own research to further their own understanding of hydraulics in order to build their cranes. Students independently planned, built and tested their hydraulic cranes. It was inspiring to see the students engaged in the task, making decisions to use their free time to work on this challenge, and working as teams to solve any setbacks they encountered. This activity was a great way for students to participate in a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity that motivated some students who are normally less engaged in the classroom. Next year, more careful planning will be done to line up curriculum learning with the challenge dates in order to increase student participation.
Student Reflections on the Task:
“Junk Drawer Races was a fun learning experience where we made a crane with just our hands and it was amazing. My favourite part was when the crane came together and my group could test it. Here are some things I enjoy and didn’t enjoy about the experience:

Some of the best things:

  • It was fun to use Tinkercad to complete our plans.

  • The testing/using the crane process was amazing!

  • It was an entertaining experience.

  • Working with like-minded, positive people

Some things to improve on:
• Making sure everyone does equal work”
 - Grade 8 Student @ Wellington P.S.

“I was very grateful for the opportunity provided to me by the YRDSB to participate in the Junk Drawer Races. It was an entirely different project than what I expected, and helped me learn a lot about teamwork, obstacles and how to improve on something you’ve already done. Even though we started late and had many challenges with the hydraulics, we were able to meet the deadline and finish the crane. It is certainly satisfying to think about how much work my group put into this project.”
- Kyle, Grade 8 Student @ Wellington P.S.

“I loved the Junk Drawer Races. I’m grateful for this opportunity; it was very engrossing and entertaining. I enjoyed working with like-minded individuals, people who changed my standpoint on something, helped me solve issues and helped me make tough decisions. I also loved the process of creating our  crane. It was fun to see all of our efforts, like the blueprint for example, come to fruition, and to see the crane shape up to be something extraordinary. “                                 

-Daniel, Grade 8 Student @ Wellington P.S.

To learn more about Skills Ontario initiatives,

Watch YRDSB Skills Ontario Initiatives Video


SHSM SPE (Sector Partnered Experience)with Hunter Engineering

Placement: Hunter Engineering
Images Submitted by: Lucas Chang, Y2 Entrepreneurship Labs    

On February 27, 2023, Transportation SHSM students from Bill Hogarth Secondary, Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary, Middlefield CI and Thornhill Secondary (along with the SHSM Regional team) spent a day at Hunter Engineering in Aurora. During the day, the students went through three learning experiences all with the goal of deepening their understanding of the automotive industry.

The day started off with a tour of Hunter’s showcase. Touring a facility the size of a gym, students saw cutting-edge equipment that Hunter manufactures, such as a scanning platform that captures a 160-point scan when a car drives through two sensors - automatically feeding diagnostic data to the service advisor’s screen. The “WAAAH” came from both students and school staff!

Next, students learned what it was like to operate an independent aftermarket auto repair shop from two owners - Emily Chung from AutoNiche in Markham and Dilraj Sekhon from R&S Auto in North York. Emily and Dilraj each shared their stories as shop owners and talked about some of the opportunities in the industry for students currently in high school. The students also later heard some current industry trends from Emily, who is also a Professor in Georgian College’s Automotive Business School of Canada and an industry writer.

Finally, students participated in an ICE (Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship) training workshop where they worked in groups to design an auto repair shop that met the needs ofSHSM logo a specific persona. They shared their shop designs - services, layout, prices and costs to their business - to Emily and Dilraj, who provided feedback.

For the students who participated, it was a day that covered a lot of ground and provided a diverse set of learning experiences. We would like to thank the students for coming, the teachers from the four schools who coordinated the visits, Emily and Dilraj for speaking to and listening to our students, and Hunter Engineering for hosting!

Student group plan for shop design


Luxe Home Staging Co-op Placement - SHSM Arts & Culture

By: Malaya Canchela - Student, Woodbridge College

From September 2022 to January 2023, I was a Co-op student at a home staging company called LUXE Home Staging. My placement would prepare homes to go on the market by staging them with different furniture and accessories to be more appealing to buyers. While working alongside my co-workers, Mayura and Stephanie, I was given administration tasks. This included bookkeeping, collecting and researching data, creating spreadsheets, and marketing. With my time there, I gained knowledge on the different aspects of what makes a successful business. 

My placement was especially beneficial to me as it connected my SHSM sector of Arts and Culture.  I was able to tap into my creativity as my supervisor, Sarika, encouraged me to propose my own ideas to contribute to the company. I learned about why they would choose certain furniture and accessories to bring a space all together.  A huge takeaway I have from the couple of months at LUXE Home Staging is that I got to learn a lot about myself and my strengths and weaknesses. From collaborating, to decision making, to project managing, Co-op gave me the chance to work in a field I may pursue in the future by learning vital skills and knowledge that will be useful in the work environment.

In conclusion, Co-op allowed me to have the opportunity to observe firsthand what a
certain work or industry is like, which can help me better define my career objectives and
interests. Taking part in the co-op program was a great opportunity to develop real-world
skills, forge meaningful relationships, and be ready for future professions.


YRDSB represents Team Ontario at Skills Canada 2023

By: Brian Cho - YRDSB Teacher, Unionville High School

Each year the top students (in secondary and post-secondary) from all across Canada gather to compete at the Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) representing their provinces and territories.  This year the national competition was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, from May 24th, 2023 to May 27th, 2023 hosting over 12,000 students, parents, educators, government, and industry professionals and partners. Skills Canada – partnering with various educational institutions, government and industry sectors – is an organization whose mission is to encourage and support a coordinated Pan-Canadian approach to promoting skilled careers in trades and technologies to youth and their communities.

Spark Mark, from Unionville High School in YRDSB, was one of the students who represented Team Ontario, becoming eligible to compete at this year’s national event by winning a gold medal in photography at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition held in Toronto annually. Prior to that, Spark won gold at the York Region Skills Competition (a regional event held by YRDSB) for the same skill.

Team Ontario sent 135 people including student competitors as well as their coaches/teachers, and other delegates to Winnipeg for this year’s national competition. There were 550 total competitors in 45 skills / trades competitions at this event. It was a sight to see as our students from Ontario were seated beside students from Yukon, Saskatchewan and across from Alberta, Northwest Territories and PEI, editing their photograph projects at their table. At the other table were students from all the other provinces. It was wonderful to see all the students connect at orientation, already sharing their learned experiences with each other. Even though the students were there to compete against each other, they also shared a camaraderie as they had common skills, passions, and interests, as well as a keen desire to learn from each other in the end. You have to imagine this is like a National Olympic event, but instead of sports, it showcases skills and trades. In fact, the winners of this national competition (depending on whether the skill is eligible) receive a spot on Team Canada to compete at the World Skills Competition which will take place in Léon, France in 2024.

After an enduring and fierce competition demonstrating and putting their skills to the
test, Spark won the silver medal in photography (Secondary) at the SCNC event. It was
quite impressive to see Spark and all the other competitors demonstrating their high level
of skill throughout their competitions, including areas like 3D animation, architectural
design, electronics, robotics, carpentry, brick laying, automotive repair, and aircraft
maintenance, to name a few.  According to Spark, “The best part was meeting new people from across Canada and learning so much in that short period of time. Overall, it was a really fun experience being part of Team Ontario and also cheering for other team mates during the medal ceremony. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”


Accelerated OYAP Program Success!

By: Jennifer Sanderson, Head of Cooperative Education, Bayview Secondary School

Exciting News from the Bayview Secondary School Co-op Department about Accelerated
OYAP.  Two of our Bayview Secondary School students were accepted in 2023 into the
Accelerated OYAP Program at Centennial College - Ashtonbee Campus. They graduated
with an OSSD and their Level 1 Skilled Trade Certification.   Congratulations to Ryan Sanglakhi who took Co-op in Grade 11 and registered as a participant in the OYAP program at a local auto service department and then took 4 credit Co-op in Grade 12 (semester 2) and signed as an apprentice with BMW Richmond Hill Service Department. He completed his 8 week block of training (while still in high school) at Centennial College in the Automotive Service Technician program (310S).
Congratulations to Nathan Liu who took Co-op in Grade 11 and registered as a participant
in the OYAP program at a local auto collision center and then took 4 credit Co-op in
Grade 12 (semester 2) and signed as an apprentice with Forest Hill North Auto Collision. He
applied to a brand new Accelerated Program at Centennial College called Autobody and
Collision Damage Repairer (310B) and was accepted!

Both Ryan and Nathan have successfully completed their training and enjoyed the
hands-on work in a college setting. They both had a job waiting for them at their Co-op
placements when they finished their Level 1 OYAP apprentice training in June!   Win/Win!

An OYAP student can be one or all of these!

OYAP programs

Learn more about Accelerated OYAP @YRDSB by visiting www.yrdsb.ca/ACCELOYAP.


OYAP Electrical Placement through IBEW

Placement: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
By: Mark Belanger - Student, Bill Hogarth Secondary School

During the second semester of my Grade 12 year, I had the opportunity to participate
in the IBEW 353 (The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Co-op program
through the OYAP program. For those who don’t know, the IBEW 353 is the union of
electricians, and as of 2023 has started accepting Co-op students who are part of
the OYAP program. I was extremely lucky and appreciate the continuous follow up
and perseverance of my Co-op teacher, Mr. Creasor to ensure I was placed in the IBEW’s
first year of student acceptances. Through my experiences as an OYAP Co-op student, I
can offer some useful guidance to anyone who is thinking about doing the same as me.
picture of Mark Belanger

I decided a couple years ago to look into electrical work as
a career when I had been told about the job from a friend’s
Dad, and thought I liked what I heard. After doing someOYAP logo
more research, I decided to take Co-op in grade 12 to do
electrical work and to get a sense of if I enjoy it. Electrical work
fascinates me. It powers everything around us, but we can’t
even see it! I chose to apply to the IBEW when I read about the
benefits of the program, and because it meant I would get
paid! My Co-op term was like a semester long job interview
where I would have an opportunity to be accepted into the
Union at the end. Once you are in the Union, you will always be
guaranteed work, and a steady pay. Getting in early means
more money in retirement.

While I was with IBEW, I learned new things everyday. Working
alongside so many experienced electricians is an amazing way to learn, because most
of them have years of knowledge to offer. The more you learn through Co-op, it can help
in making career decisions. Not only is it a great opportunity to learn about the electrical
trade, but also to learn life skills you will be able to use in any scenario whether you
choose to be an electrician or not.

If you’re someone in high school, and are interested in becoming
an electrician in the future, I would highly recommend joining
IBEW as soon as you can. It’s a great way to solidify yourself in the
trade at a younger age, and to start being able to make money
while you learn. The opportunities provided by IBEW through the
OYAP program is a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone as
interested in electrical work as I am! Through enough hard work,
anyone in the program has the ability to set themselves up for
success, while still in high school.

Learn more about OYAP @YRDSB by visiting www.yrdsb.ca/OYAP.


Transportation Skills Challenge

By: David Natale, Head of Technology, Thornhill Secondary School

On February 24, 2023, the Transportation York Region Skills Competition took place and
was hosted by Centennial College – School of Transportation. 15 students across 6 YRDSB
schools participated in this event, including Thornlea SS, Thornhill SS, Sutton DHS, Bill
Hogarth SS, Middlefield SS and Dr. G. W. Williams SS.

During the competition, students were
required to demonstrate a variety of
technical skills related to tools, brake
systems, engine management, and
careers. Students were judged by a
formidable panel including our host,
Harnek Gill, and his team of Centennial
College Instructors. The day concluded
with the top competitors being awarded
prizes from Snap On Tools. The first
place competitor was given the
opportunity to compete at Skills Ontario
on May 2nd, 2023.

Congratulations to the following students who placed in the Top 3 for the competition.

YRSC Transportation students

We look forward to another successful partnership with Centennial College in the future!

Learn more about the York Region Skills Challenge! www.yrdsb.ca/skills.



Womens Conference Skills Ontario

By: Sabrina Liu, Markville Secondary School

Many students attended the Skills Ontario Competition & Career Exploration Showcase
and Women’s Conference. We had a total of 41 students (15 males and 26 females)
ranging from grades 10 to 12 that went on the trip! All our students visited the exhibitor
booths, tried the activities at the booths and spoke with industry professionals about
the skilled trades and career opportunities. They also saw students in action as well as
their products entered across all different categories. The females had an added bonus
as they heard from impactful female guest speakers such as the Honorable Charmaine
Williams as well as keynote speaker Kayleen McCabe. The visit from the Premier of Ontario
surprised many of our students!
Evidence of how enriching and influential this day was for our students can be seen in
their testimonials.

Sabrina Liu

“There are so many more job opportunities in the trades for women than I thought
there were.”  Eleni 
“It is a great way to learn about careers that are commonly overlooked in school.”  Jessica 
“I understand that the skills sector offers many well-paying jobs now.”  Sylvia 
“It made me learn about the other options after high school, and that a person goes
through many careers in their life.”  Kate 


“This experience has supported my learning by teaching me that, not only is an
apprenticeship an alternative form of post-secondary education, but it is also one
that offers good career options and a stable income, making it viable in my opinion.
Without this experience, I likely wouldn’t have even considered a skilled trade after I
graduate, so the new idea of an opportunity was helpful.”  Ciara
“I have learned the hands on experience of different sectors and empowerment of
women in the field.”  Joanna 

Learn more about the annual Skills Ontario Women’s conference


YRDSB Dual Credit Program

By: Sarah , student @ Woodbridge College

My name is Sarah and I am a Grade 11 student at Woodbridge College. I was enrolled in a Dual Credit course with Humber College called Introduction todual credit logo Business. I was first introduced to this opportunity in semester 1, 2022, and I was able to partake in a course that I was interested in for semester two. I am very excited to take this course because I am given an opportunity to physically see what college is like but also because this credit would count towards both my Ontario Secondary School Diploma and College Diploma. The course I’m taking connects to the SHSM Business sector vastly since the course is a little bit of everything related to business. In this course, I am learning about marketing, entrepreneurship, business management, human resources, and accounting. I’m able to apply what I have been learning about in my college class to my co-op placement at National Auto Spa as part of my role is coming up with new and creative marketing tactics for the company. I get to learn about branding and how it plays a big role when it comes to the company’s image and identification. Overall, this experience has been an eye opener for me and I look forward to continuing my college path in the near future.

Learn more the dual credit program @YRDSB visit: www.yrdsb.ca/dualcredits


Exploring the Skilled Trades through a cabinet making shop

By: Aaina Misra, Maple High School
Placement: Marquis Millwork

From September 2022 to January 2023, I had the amazing opportunity to gain real work
experience in the Skilled Trades, all while still in high school. Through the co-operative
education program at my school, I was connected with a placement in a cabinet
making shop at Marquis Millwork. The benefits from this experience were endless, especially
to help me with my future in the Trades. From gaining transferable skills to getting technical
knowledge to meeting professionals in the field with so much advice to share with me, I
could really see how co-op would impact me as I start my career in carpentry. I was able to strengthen my independence, problem solving, professionalism, and teamwork skills, which I’ve learnt are very applicable to carpentry.

I gained technical skills that are transferable from cabinet making to carpentry such as learning how to safely use new tools and getting a lot of practice using a measuring tape. My supervisor and co-workers were generous in sharing the many tips and tricks they’ve learnt throughout their time in the Trades. Co-op was such a great experience for me that when I found out one of the carpentry programs at Humber College I was looking at for post-secondary school also had it as an option, that became a huge factor in my decision to accept the offer for that program.  Co-op was one of the most valuable experiences of my time in high school and the time I spent gaining skills and working hands-on will last me a lifetime in my career in the Skilled Trades.

For more information about Co-op programs, visit www.yrdsb.ca/co-op


Flash Print and the Young Entrepreneurship Program

Submitted by: Markville Secondary School

Flash Print @ MSS is a creative design and print store that serves the school and its local community. As an Exploring Opportunities Program, the classes offered at Flash Print @ MSS have been on an entrepreneurial journey that was supported by the Young Entrepreneurs Pilot Program. This program invited students to begin a partnership (periods 3 and 4) or a sole proprietorship (period 5) based on the parameters set by the Ministry of Education and the Board. Students began their journey by learning about local opportunities and ideas through the Markham Small Business Centre. This experience was then extended to learning about employment opportunities in York Region through a virtual, interactive session from the Workforce Planning Board of York Region. As ideas were being consolidated by the various ventures, students were then introduced to Mrs. Gillespie, the director of a non-profit organization called Room for a Child. After understanding how this company assists families in need to help their children thrive by creating beautiful bedrooms, all ventures agreed to exercise their social responsibility by donating 10% of their profits at the end of the semester. Students then developed venture plans that were presented to Flash Print’s stakeholders through pitches to seek their support to continue on with their businesses.

Mrs. Caravella (Vice-Principal), Ms. Bull(Experiential Learning Consultant), Ms. Kant (Head of Personalized Alternative Education), Mrs. Ruffo (Guidance Counsellor), Mr. Lien (Math Teacher), Ms. Sirju (Student Services Teacher) and Mr. Law (YRDSB Trustee) all provided valuable input and shared their concerns with the various businesses over the course of an
afternoon. With stakeholders’ support, the young entrepreneurs began to prepare for their
launch at Markville’s very first Maker Market at the school in late May and early June. Students improved on their prototypes and they also designed their own business cards. Then, on a field trip to YRDSB Printing Services in Newmarket, students watched as their designs were produced into 200 business cards for each student. Additionally, uniforms and resources, like skeins of yarn, tote bags, irons, thread, envelopes were also ordered to support businesses.

Prior to the official launch of the Maker Market, the partnership called SnapShot Ink. participated in a virtual Ontario showcase called Young Entrepreneurs in Action hosted
by Junior Achievement. This event was attended by the Minister of Education who
spoke of the pilot program and how one of the program’s goals was to encourage students
to develop entrepreneurial mindsets. Students who attended the showcase had a chance to hear about other student ventures that were being supported by the pilot program from
all over Ontario. In a smaller setting online, SnapShot Ink. was given an opportunity to
present their venture to a provincial audience with an entrepreneur in attendance, Dennis Huynh from Expresume Inc., who offered advice and guidance to the partnership (and he happens to be a Markville Secondary School graduate!).

June was a very busy month for the young entrepreneurs. Sales began at the end of May
in the atrium for a week which was followed by an open house at Flash Print (June 14).
The final sales opportunity was at the Markham Village Music Festival on Saturday, June
17. Students arrived at 8:30 AM to set up and worked until 4 PM. It was a beautiful day to
be on Main Street Markham. Student entrepreneurs were supported by Mrs. Bull and Mrs.
Passafiume throughout the day as they interacted with many different customers. Visits
from Mr. Hu, Mr. Huynh, Ms. Badiani, Mrs. Bradshaw were familiar faces who came by to
see the young entrepreneurs at work. All ventures made sales so that a total of $150 was
donated to Room for A Child.

Learn more about the Entrepreneurship project at www.yrdsb.ca/YEPP



SWAC-School Within A College - An Experiential Way to Graduate!
Students from across York Region have had the opportunity to complete their Ontario
Secondary School Diploma requirements through the semestered School Within a College Program during the 2022/23 school year. This specialized program that runs out of Seneca College-King Campus gives students the chance to graduate and gain valuable daily insight into college as a post-secondary destination. Students received individual programming for their remaining OSSD credits and had the opportunity to earn 2 dual credit courses at Seneca College. Beyond academics, students participated in a number
of specialized workshops hosted by Seneca that focused on transitioning to post-secondary school destinations including career and program planning, financial aid and OSAP information and individual student advising sessions. SWAC students represented YRDSB well by successfully participating in other Pathway Programs such as OYAP, ALEP and even the Canadian Military to broaden their understanding of the workplace and/ or skilled trades. A shout out to SWAC students who have also applied and/or been accepted into college and/or apprenticeships programs next year including Police Foundations, Business, Culinary Management, Human Behaviour, Auto Service Technician and Music Production. Congratulations to our SWAC graduates and their exciting step into college or the workplace equipped with improved skills, new found confidence and well-being.

Student Testimonials
“Coming into the Seneca building and the campus itself helped me focus and gave
me the motivation to see into my future of where my studies will be.” Domenic
“I learned not to be afraid of learning new things and stepping out of my comfort zone
and doing new things I normally wouldn’t do.”  - Zoe

“I learned it is never too late to try…SWAC helped me realize that communication really
helps in figuring out next steps and advocating for myself in terms of my schoolwork.” - Jake

“The SWAC program helped me to take that scary first step toward the future-a future
I finally started shaping by and for myself. The environment was new to me but the
staff is friendly and the facilities are inviting. After my struggle with academics and
mental health, SWAC provided an opportunity to enjoy learning again.” - Amanda


Learn more about SWAC, visit www.yrdsb.ca/SWAC


Yoga Teacher Training Program and SHSM

Yoga at Sir William Mulock Secondary School

Submitted by: Victoria Hamilton

Sir William Mulock is proud to announce that we offer a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) Program. Students at Mulock who successfully complete both the Grade 11 (IDC3O1) and Grade 12 (IDC4O1) yoga courses are eligible to enroll in Mulock’s very own YTT Program. Students in this program learn all of the skills required to become an effective and qualified yoga instructor. By the end of the training program, students earn their Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) certificate, and are qualified to teach yoga classes in Canada. This is an excellent opportunity for all Health and Wellness Specialist High Skills Major students who want to earn an elective certificate in the field of yoga instructing.  We have six students graduating from our YTT program this year, and are excited to grant them their yoga teaching certificates in June! The students photographed here are enrolled in Mulock’s Grade 11 Yoga and the Art of Wellness Course. Some of them will go on to become certified yoga teachers!

victoria hamilton

Learn more about the SHSM programs offered at YRDSB by visiting www.yrdsb.ca/SHSM


Contact Us

Interested in hosting a Co-op Student? Visit Co-op Employer Registry.

Visit us at: www.yrdsb.ca/pathways

Twitter: @YRDSBPathways

Instagram: @yrdsb.pathways,@yrdsb.dualcredits


Janani Pathy, Principal, C&IS, Pathways and Student Success

Reshma Badiani, Pathways Curriculum Coordinator Pathways

Erin Keyzers, Pathways Curriculum Consultant, OYAP Recruiter

Fadi Boutanos, Pathways Curriculum Consultant, Skills, Dual Credits

Sonya Kim, Pathways Curriculum Consultant, Co-op, PAE, SAL, HPA

Karen O'Meara,  Pathways Curriculum Consultant, Community Connected Experiential Learning        

Effy Kolianou Student Success Consultant, Student Success, Pathways

Kristy Macdonald, Pathways Curriculum Consultant, SHSM, Technological Education, EOP

Michael Frankfort, Curriculum Consultant, Transitions, Pathways

Elvira Rainone Curriculum Consultant, Student Success, Pathways

Dennis Stam, Pathways Curriculum Consultant. Science, STEM

Laura Cousins, Administrative Support

Pamela Hollands, Administrative Support

Sujatha Visweswaran, Administrative Support