Christian Curriculum

New tech wing planned for Chatham Christian School

Students at Chatham Christian School will have a greater opportunity to prepare for a career in the skilled trades from September 2023, when a new technology wing is set to open.

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Students at Chatham Christian School will have a greater opportunity to prepare for careers in the skilled trades from September 2023, when a new tech wing is set to open.

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The school community came together recently to celebrate plans to build a new technology wing in the 2022-2023 school year which will include 4,500 square feet on the ground floor and a 1,000 square foot section On the second floor.

The project, which is expected to cost between $700,000 and $750,000, is funded by the school community, which receives no government funding.

Mason Snoek, 15, a 10th grader, is excited about the project because the school’s current shop is relatively small.

“We have limited access to what we can do in the shop, so with this bigger shop we can do more and we have more programs, so we can start doing auto repairs and woodworking. advanced, everything that we couldn’t do before,” he said.

Snoek is looking forward to doing more car repairs “because it’s not something I’ve really done before and I think it would be something cool to try.”

Technology professor Paul Burggraaf said teaching these kinds of storeless courses at scale has “certainly been a challenge, but with that challenge came a few blessings,” including being “forced out of beaten track”.

“I used my first two years of classroom teaching to turn the classroom into a store,” he said.

This approach involved having students help install an outward swinging door and pouring a concrete slab outside the door so they could work on the vehicles, Burggraaf said.

“The limitations actually opened up some pretty unique learning experiences.”

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Burggraaf, however, said it was time to settle into a regular classroom with projects that could be repeated and anticipated by students.

“I like to think of construction classes as more than woodworking,” he said. “I want to see the construction be wide. I want to make sure we cover electrical, plumbing, framing, exterior finishing – all facets of building technology.

As a mechanic, Burggraaf said he was excited “to get some equipment that will allow me to teach at Grace 11 and Grade 12 levels.”

He also relishes having the ability to teach students to weld.

“It’s one of those tickets that are available, that students could graduate with some level of welding certification,” he added. “It would be really nice if we could build this program to include something like.”

The new wing will also house hospitality and tourism courses, as well as communications technology.

School principal Ken VanMinnen said the addition is due to the support of the school community who believe this type of program is important for students.

Noting that many school support workers work in the agricultural industry, he said the goal was for students interested in this sector to be “as industry-ready as possible from the start.”

“These are interesting careers and we enjoy them, as much as we enjoy our college journey,” VanMinnen said.

Having previously taught at the school 15 years ago, VanMinnen said there were students who wanted to do well in school but knew they wanted to build or farm or do something in the skilled trades.

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He said watching these students wait out high school and “for their ‘real life’ to begin is kind of a motivation for a lot of our staff.”

“We can make the four years here much more meaningful,” the manager said.

VanMinnen noted that’s a shared sentiment within the school community, citing local businesses such as Owen Flooring, Bouma Builders, Honey Electric Multi-Construction, Greenhill Produce and Truly Green Greenhouses as supporters.

“It’s an extension of what they’re looking for in their workforce,” VanMinnen said.

Snoek hasn’t decided if his career path will lead him to work in the skilled trades, but he said he still wants to “know those skills so I have them when I need them.”

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