Holland College Blog

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Holland College Transitions program gives high school students hands on experience

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Welcome back, and Happy New Year!

The upcoming year promises to be especially busy for the college. Construction projects are forging ahead in Georgetown and Charlottetown, the Commercial Diving program has relocated to its new home at the Marine Training Centre in Summerside, and new programs are being developed for the Centre for Applied Science and Technology, which is scheduled to open early in 2011.

Busy tends to be the norm at the college. Our students and staff have returned from their Christmas break, and everyone’s getting back into the swing of things.

Transitions students Maxine Harding (left) and Emily Gass with Allan MacRae, assistant manager of the ReStore

For 24 Holland College Transitions students, their first week back at the college was full of activity. The college’s Transitions program, which has been running since the fall of 2002, gives high school students an opportunity to experience first-hand a variety of programs around the college as well as out in the field. Last week, the “field” was the Habitat for Humanity building, where they have been volunteering in a variety of roles related to retail, construction, and office work.

Transitions mentor Chris Connolly invited me to drop in to see what the students were up to. Habitat for Humanity, located at 365 Mount Edward Road in Charlottetown, is a hive of activity. The Habitat for Humanity Restore sells quality new and used building materials, furniture, and appliances, all of which have been donated by individuals and organizations. There’s a great selection of windows, ranging from the antique to nearly-new vinyl, old mantle pieces, door knobs, doors, cast iron bathtubs, couches, desks…basically everything, including the kitchen sink.

When the college was preparing the construction site for the Prince of Wales Campus expansion, Habitat for Humanity was invited to strip the buildings of any reusable materials before they were demolished. Allan MacRae, assistant manager of the ReStore, said there were lots of great finds in the old houses.

“We got several cast iron radiators out of one building, and two cast iron bathtubs,” he told me. They were also able to recover a lot of Douglas fir baseboard, and some great French doors.

The Transitions students were hard at work when I visited them. With volunteers, their teacher from Bluefield, Lorna Ryan-Koughan, mentor Chris Connolly, and Habitat for Humanity staff overseeing them, they were building doors for the organization’s Baby Barn Build Blitz Fundraiser, working in the store sorting and packing door knobs, and in the office, preparing lists of potential donors for the barn building fundraiser.

It’s giving them an opportunity to find out what goes on inside a not-for-profit organization, although arguably, Habitat for Humanity seems to be one of the more dynamic not-for-profits…I think it might be all the hustle and bustle around the place that keeps the energy level and enthusiasm of the students high.

Some of the students have tried their hand at all aspects of the organization, while others found a niche that they enjoyed on the first day, and are firmly and happily ensconced in one place.

Emily Gass, a Grade 12 student from Bluefield High School, said that she’s really enjoyed working in the store, which came as a surprise to her.  But then again, she says the entire Transitions experience has been full of surprises.

“It’s been awesome,” she told me. “I’m so glad I took the Transitions program. It’s a great opportunity to find out about different jobs.”

Demand for the program is high among senior high school students, and what initially started as program for youth at risk of dropping out or not continuing into post-secondary education has morphed into a program that students of all academic stripes are keen to take.

This group of students is at a different location this week, but for some, like Emily, their week at Habitat for Humanity has made a lasting impression.

Written by Sara Underwood

January 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

One Response

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  1. […] to help students figure out what programs may be right for them. You can read more about it in my previous blog entry on the […]

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