The Thames Valley District school board is expanding its high skills majors by six this year. “You’re building a resume and set of skills in that sector. The only prerequisite is an interest in that sector,” said Mary Jane Snoeks, who oversees the program for the Catholic board. “It’s a big deal to come out of high school with not just your credits but also some things on your resume, connections with industry partners and those soft skills. It has a strong impact on students.” Students such as Lantz work toward their Ontario diploma — the requirements for that are the same as for any student — but they also take two courses in a career sector, like aviation, every semester. They leave high school with certification like GPS, working at heights, WHMIS and first aid. “It helps prepare the student for a future career. It exposes them to a very authentic experience,” said Danny Galante, the John Paul II teacher who teaches in the aviation program. Students don’t necessarily have to end up in the career they “majored” in, he added: “There’s as much value as figuring out what they do like as what they don’t.” Students in Grades 11 and 12 focus their learning on a specific sector. It’s part of the province’s push to give high school students applicable job skills and ensure that students who might otherwise have dropped out have a variety of course options. Students choose a sector and take a bundle of eight to 10 Grade 11 and Grade 12 courses.

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