Chilliwack secondary Grade 12 student Jesse Harrison (plaid jacket) shows teachers her Capstone project during the school’s three-day presentation session on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

New Capstone program helps Chilliwack secondary grads prepare for future careers

The project covers the students’ journey through high school, skills learned, plans after graduation

Chilliwack secondary’s class of 2020 will be graduating this year with a better understanding of their own personal growth and a different outlook on their potential career path thanks to a new course at the school.

The local high school introduced the B.C. Ministry of Education’s Capstone project this school year which is now a CSS graduation-requirement course centred on career preparedness.

Capstone is essentially a presentation about one’s self and career plan put together by every Grade 12 student.

“I think Capstone helps a student realize that they need to get their stuff together. It makes everything become very real and it can be stressful to work on, but it’s good for you in the long run,” student Hannah Friesen said.

It is a representation of the student’s education journey and includes what students have learned through their time in high school, the skills they have developed, and their plans after graduation, said CSS career advisor Korilea Soltys.

“It’s giving every single Grade 12 an opportunity to sit in a meaningful way. It’s also an opportunity for us to get all of our staff involved,” she said.

Soltys was an integral part of the Capstone team which also included principal Brian Fehlauer, vice principal Jessica Adams-Loupret, counsellor Michael Cameron, and teacher Dan Blaschek.

The students have been working on their projects since June of last year, all leading up to this week where they presented them to a teacher.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, nearly 400 Grade 12s each sat down for a 30-minute, one-on-one session with a teacher to present their project.

Long rows of tables filled the school’s secondary gym, with the teachers seated on one side and the students on the other, for the interview-like chats.

Soltys said the feedback has been great and “the kids are excited to talk about their plan.”

Their presentations could be in the form of PowerPoint, artwork, or even something like a piece of cake (such as those interested in the culinary arts).

One student brought a cardboard cutout of her own silhouette covered in photos, magazine clippings and drawings. Another student who moved to Chilliwack from Syria three years ago spoke about her journey, leaving haunting memories behind and embracing a new life and language in Canada.

“The assignment helped me become realistic about my post-grad plans. I ended up having to seriously plan my future for this project, which was good,” Declan Hyland said.

Soltys admits it can be intimidating for some students to talk about themselves, especially with a teacher they don’t know.

“I overcame my anxiety and found confidence in presenting,” Taylor Hoogerdk said.

Those who felt nervous were given the option to have CSS support staff with them during the session, or do the presentation in a secluded room.

Capstone is not an in-classroom course, but rather a project that students complete on their own time. Each student meets with a teacher mentor three times throughout the 2019-20 school year to help guide them in the right direction.

The presentations marking the completion of Capstone this week were also a chance for the teens to celebrate their achievements and plans, Soltys added. Each session ended with a “congratulations” from teachers plus a slice of cake.

“This specifically is a celebration of them, especially personal growth,” Soltys said.

RELATED: More students, more pressure in B.C. school system

RELATED: Student confidence appears to drop, despite graduation rates improving in Chilliwack


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Chilliwack secondary Grade 12 student Kendra Hine (left) shows teacher Shelley Wojcik her Capstone project during the school’s three-day presentation session on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Chilliwack secondary principal Brian Fehlauer takes a photo of a group of Grade 12 students during the school’s three-day Capstone presentation on Wednesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

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