TRU and SD27 joined forces to build a home on Anderson Road. Pictured in the front row from the left are: Hunter Mennie (left)

TRU and SD27 joined forces to build a home on Anderson Road. Pictured in the front row from the left are: Hunter Mennie (left)

TRU/SD27 collaborate on new house project

A group of 11 students and their instructor are feeling great about a construction project.

A group of 11 students and their instructor are feeling great about a construction project they worked on this summer through the Residential Construction program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Williams Lake.

As part of gaining their level one and two of carpentry, the group began building a house for Brad Thiessen from SpruceLee Construction.

“He had planned to build a home for his family in the next three years, and decided to get involved with the TRU construction project last minute,” said TRU carpentry instructor Sean McTague.

“It was pretty last minute: it takes a lot of planning to build a house besides working full time, and he scrambled to get his house plans completed so the project could begin.”

He explained that they usually start on a house a month and a half into the course, this time was five months in.

There were also delays because of the wet weather, but the group still made significant progress on the house.

“The Residential Construction program is level one and two of carpentry plus 450 of hands-on experience in the field with banked time toward your ITA (Industry Training Association) final certification,” he explained.

“There were 11 students in the program, just enough to get it going; TRU is thinking of offering it every two years,” he said, adding that out of the 21 students he had in the program, there were six ACE IT high school students: three in Grade 11 and three in Grade 12.

ACE IT is an industry training program for high school students. Students can take courses that will give them credit towards both high school graduation and towards completion of an apprenticeship or industry training program.

“It went really well,” said David Corbett, coordinator of career programs for School District 27.

“There were some set-backs getting started, but the feedback from the high school students was that they loved it.

“They enjoyed the classroom learning, the practical aspects and the camaraderie,” he said.  “Sean is a very good instructor.”

He added that they could have used more time on the project, but that every course has its time frame.

“The kids get a great experience out of this, as well as their technical certification,” he continued.

“They have to be motivated to get into the program, and that helps them get more out of it.

“Their learning is that much more productive. They use math to finish roof pitches, and the rise and run of a staircase. They use science, communication and team work,” he said.

For kids who are motivated this course is an amazing benefit, Corbett said.

“We only take 25 kids a year, and in general our success rate is extremely high – 95 per cent.

“Typically a high school student in this program gets some of the top marks of anyone in these courses,” he noted.

In the ACE IT program the School District pays the tuition of the kids. “The application process is two years long; I interact with them in school during that time and line them up with the courses they need,” he stated.

“We make sure their work ethic is good and that they have good attendance. I start advertising in Grade 8 and 9 and the application process starts in Grade 10.”

High school ACE IT students can take welding, construction, electrical, heavy duty mechanics and carpentry, with horticulture on the way, he added.

“The School District and TRU and I have an agreement that I can also send kids to Kamloops for something we don’t have here, like automotive mechanics,” he said.

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