Many students graduate high school wondering how what they learned will apply to the real world.
Students participating in Rocky View Schools Building Futures program in partnership with Kingsmith Homes, do not have the same question.
After a year in the intensive program that sees the nearly 30 students help in the construction of two homes, they are not only set up for future work in the trades if that is what they choose to pursue, they are ready for the every day work that crops up during adulthood. Whether they need to do simple repairs around their future homes or prepare for major renovations they are prepared.
But possibly more importantly is the character growth the program fosters. Jaeden Klassen, a Grade 10 student at Bow Valley High School, hit the nail on the head (pun totally intended) when she spoke about the little skills she learned on the construction site - respect, eye contact, communication and the confidence to shake a person's hand. While, those skills might seem obvious to many older generations, technology has changed human interaction to the point where face-to-face communication is less common than it once was, which means there is a definite need to teach these skills.
This year, the program added another important competency – civic responsibility. Students volunteered for everything from helping younger children build little libraries to cleaning up the community, which hopefully instills the desire to be good community citizens with an aim of wanting to make their communities better places to live.
Klassen was right that skills in communication and professional etiquette will help set her classmates apart. Those skills are almost as important as job competency. It is through that confidence and decorum that these future adults will make their first impressions, get their collective feet in the door and find success.
Those behind the Building Futures program laud the impact it has on students. Teacher Matthew Chomistek and Kingsmith Homes owner Craig Wiens have been involved in Building Futures since it began five years ago and both are amazed by the results. Chomistek, a teacher for nearly a decade, believes the Building Futures students demonstrate more growth than mainstream students. Wiens, who has dedicated his company and financial resources to the program, says the benefits to the students continues to renew his commitment to the program.
As Building Futures wraps up its fifth year, it is clear it is a program that not only teaches skills but also builds better people.