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 Jamie Pettit
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From: Monday, May 1, 2017 10:53 AM -0400
Subject:SHSM Putting Grey County on the Map
The multitude of skills and choice available through Bluewater District School Board’s Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program were on display as Grey County representatives brought a special guest to Grey Highlands Secondary School in Flesherton on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.  The visit was one of the stops on a local tour by Louis Zacharilla, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) as part of Grey County’s bid to become Intelligent Community of the Year.  Currently a top 7 finalist, the county is attempting to rise above some stiff competition from the likes of cities in Taiwan, Australia, Russia, and the only other Canadian finalist, Edmonton, Alberta.  Learn more by viewing this media release from Grey County.      

Image of Grey County sign: "Welcome to the Connected County Louis Zacharilla"During the tour, those in attendance had a chance to get a sneak peek of Grey Highlands Secondary School’s two SHSM offerings of Horticulture and Landscaping, and Transportation.  Students who enrol are required to take four courses in their area of study (or three and an additional credit in Manufacturing or Co-operative Education) and an additional credit in Business Studies (Marketing) or Science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Environmental Science).  There is also a requirement to complete complementary studies in English and Mathematics.  Students participate in field trips specific to their areas of specialization, Reach Ahead experiences related to post-secondary destinations, and an Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) training day.  The latter is a competition involving teams of students from across the board who are presented with real-world business challenges to which they must design potential solutions.

The success of the school’s SHSM offerings is reflected in the various medals won by students at the Skills Ontario Competition as well as the business and employment opportunities pertaining to their areas of study that students have benefited from.  For example, in Horticulture and Landscaping, many of the assignments and special projects have been inspired by the students’ enthusiasm and commitment to "learning best by doing".  Last year for the first time, students set up a display at the Home and Cottage Expo in Owen Sound and completed an offsite exam, which included pruning, plant identification, landscape maintenance, and a paver project.  Students in the program have also made many improvements to the school grounds, such as a barbeque shelter, interlocking brick and gardens at the south entrance, a seating area in the courtyard, and gardens in the courtyard and at the front of the school.    

There is also a comprehensive range of Technological Studies courses offered at the school, including Hair and Aesthetics, Manufacturing (Welding), Construction (Woodworking), Communication Technology, Computer Engineering, Hospitality, and others.  In Grade 9, students take an introductory tech course that offers an overview of several areas of study.  Students select the specific courses that are of interest to them in Grade 10, while Grades 11 and 12 courses offer a greater depth of study in each area.  Students often complete a Co-operative Education program in their area of interest in Grade 12.  If they register with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, they are eligible to earn apprenticeship hours and secondary school credits at the same time.  For example, Hospitality students can go to Georgian College for the Dual Credit Level 1 Cook program to earn both secondary school and college credits.  

Bluewater District School Board offers 11 different Specialist High Skills Major programs at nine secondary schools.  Students who complete all requirements earn a Red Seal on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.  For the full list, visit
Image of students working on engines in Transportation classImage of students working on engines in Transportation class
Image of students torquing car tire in Transportation classImage of GHSS SHSM sign for Transportation
Image of students at computer work stations engaged in graphic designImage of student at computer work station engaged in graphic design
Image of Grey Highlands municipal dignitary speaking with student at work station in Manufacturing classImage of students welding
Image of door leading into Manufacturing classImage of bulletin board displaying the many benefits of SHSM
Image of GHSS greenhouse interior Image of Grey County reps and GHSS students conversing in the greenhouse
Image of interior of GHSS wood shopImage of GHSS student wood work Image of wooden Adirondack chair and picnic table in the GHSS wood shop