EASTERN ONTARIO — This year, to help support student engagement in the skilled trades, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario launched the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Elementary Race Car Challenge. Twenty CDSBEO schools received over 1,300 car-building kits. The process has helped to teach and inspire students to embraces trades and apprenticeship training, while also gaining a better understanding of the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
CDSBEO Program Coordinator Dan Lortie noted that the program is always looking for innovative ways to engage students and promote the apprenticeship pathway.
“Unfortunately, COVID has resulted in the cancellation of plans to host an Automotive Expo and other racing-related promotions, which included the raffling off of two school-built Enduro cars.”
The planned events were to be done in partnership with St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary graduate, Corey Wheeler, who is currently a service manager with the Seaway Automotive Group. In addition, Wheeler is a well-known track champion who has risen through the ranks from Pro-Stock to Sportsman and Modified divisions. Wheeler was registered as an Automotive Service Technician apprentice through the school board’s Youth program, after completing several cooperative education placements in grades eleven and twelve.
“I’m a huge fan of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship program,” explained Wheeler. “Over the years, our dealership has hired apprentices directly through cooperative education, and these students have developed into some of our best technicians.”
Through the established partnership with Wheeler Racing, the elementary school, which creates the largest social media footprint through their Race Car Challenge, will host Fat Les’s Chip Stand at the school in June. Plans are also underway to offer students free passes to an upcoming race at the Cornwall Speedway.
“This initiative will be a lot of fun,” noted Wheeler. “Hopefully COVID will not interfere with our plans, or with the upcoming racing season.”
With approximately 13,000 students, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario operates 39 elementary and 10 secondary schools across eight counties.