Sunday, 5 June 2016

Project Heavy Duty


This week Project Heavy Duty celebrated another year of giving selected secondary students the opportunity to learn about, and actually operate, many kinds of heavy equipment. Under the close supervision of qualified instructors and operators, students received five days of hands-on training with such equipment as crawler/dozers, excavators, graders, rock trucks and a variety of logging equipment as they performed industry standard jobs on a real work site.

Over the years many local contractors, businesses and other agencies have been generous in supplying equipment, operators, facilities, fuel, food, first aid, security, communications equipment and the other services required for the project. Over the years project supporters have included diverse businesses including a local paper, a financial institution, several contractors, oil companies and other community partners.  The project is scheduled for a full week in late spring Students selected for the project do not attend regular classes, but report for field work during that time.

Safety is a top concern for everyone involved. Students receive training in first aid and site safety. They must also attend presentations from Worksafe BC before entering a work site. All Worksafe guidelines for standard work sites are followed on site, and students receive one on one safety instruction from qualified operators before working any piece of equipment. At all times students are overseen by qualified operators, and site supervisors are assigned to each area of the project. Absolutely no horseplay is tolerated.. This is a working project, with real life equipment, rules and expectations.

Students who take part in this project benefit in many ways. Their hands-on experience with heavy equipment gives them skills for possible future employment, exposure to different career choices, opportunities to meet and impress potential employers, and to experience a real life job site.  The district benefits as well. This year the project was held on the grounds of the soon to be constructed Ma Murray Community Elementary School helping prep the site for the construction that is to come.

A project of this nature needs special people at the controls. District Principal Richard Koop has been with the program since its inception. Previously a school based administrator, Richard has been able to combine his lifelong passion for construction and industrial training, with his considerable talents as an teacher and administrator. Project Heavy Duty and the district's  Residential Construction Program are his key responsibilities. Selecting the students and guiding these programs, Richard has been instrumental in providing hundreds of students alternate paths to educational success. Working with Richard is Donny Goodbun. Now at an age where others might consider retiring, Donny continues to step up every year. His dedicated efforts and vast experience are appreciated by everyone. Heavy Duty has become a family project for the Goodbuns, as  sons Trent and Tyrell, former SD60 students, are now two of the operators working with our current students.

Project Heavy Duty is a great example of how SD 60 works to make learning relevant and important for everyone. Its curious that the benefits and learning outcomes from projects such as this one don't get the same level of recognition in school ranking processes as other more formal assessments or government exams. Certainly the students recognize the benefits. Many of them cite the week as the best learning they've ever had. From the organizers, to the sponsors, to the students, to our community partners, Project Heavy Duty is an opportunity where everyone comes away enriched.