Gold Trail Trades in transition

SD 74 Trades program pauses and reflects while it is between directors.

Gold Trail’s trades program is taking a break after losing its Director of Trades, Wendy Blaskovic, earlier this year.

Blaskovic was hired on by Thompson Rivers University in February, leaving School District 74 to decide its next steps.

“We’re in a bit of a transition,” admitted Superintendent Teresa Downs, “but it allows us to regroup.”

She says there is no doubt that Gold Trail will be replacing the position, “but we’re not sure what it will look like.”

At an Apr. 2 Education Committee meeting in Ashcroft, members were asked what the future of trades in Gold Trail looked like to them.

“The trades are high on priority list for trustees,” said trustee Carmen Ranta. “It’s not really our trades program – it’s an area and regional trades program.”

Offering the program through TRU is difficult, she said, because of location and low enrolment. “We need to find a way to offer trades to our district.”

Lillooet Secondary PAC president Orra Storkan said that a certification problem with the District’s program a few years ago made parents reluctant to put their children into the program. In that case, it wasn’t until the end of the school year when parents found out that the program wasn’t eligible for certification that year.

“The only way we can make it reasonably successful is to know what the kids are interested in,” said committee chair, trustee Christopher Roden.

We need to ask them, he said, because “they are the only ones with the information we need to build the programs they want.”

Trustee Nancy Rempel noted that there are many trades that TRU does not offer. “We need to go past them,” she said, “even outside of BC” and she pointed to several Clinton students who had gone to school in Olds, Alberta to study agricultural trades.

“We need partnerships with other institutions,” said trustee Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan. Numbers are a challenge, she agreed, but other institutions might be more prepared to work with just one or two interested students.

Storkan suggested that financial support from Gold Trail for its students be a part of those partnerships.

Downs says there are three students enrolled in TRU’s trades program this year; last year there were 11.

“It’s a reflection of student interest,” she says.

She agrees with trustees who want to connect with other institutions. “Trades are not just welding, carpentry and electrical,” says Downs. “TRU offers us a lot of great opportunities, but there are lots beyond.”

All of the paperwork for the program is already in place for this school year. Downs says no major changes will be made to the program until the new director is in place, allowing them to assess what’s needed and provide their own input.

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