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Students could take to the skies, and earn credits at the same time

Central Alberta students could learn to fly and call it schoolwork.

Chinook’s Edge School Division plans to make available to students next school year a dual credit offering that will teach them aviation.

A program is being developed with Sky Wings Aviation Academy and Red Deer College that will allow students to earn credits towards an aviation certificate offered by the college while also working toward their high school completion.

The project has not been finalized, but the expectation is that it will be in place for the second semester of the 2014-15 school year.

When it comes, it will be the fourth dual credit option for students within Chinook’s Edge. An automotive service technician program is being developed in conjunction with Cam Clark Ford and students will be able to tap into Olds College’s tourism and hospitality program as well.

The final initiative is one open to Chinook’s Edge, Red Deer Public and Red Deer Catholic students. Through the School Within a College (SWAC) program, 12 secondary school students will attend classes at Red Deer College, earning credits towards both their high school completion and a college certification.

The students will be entered into the auto service technician program. Upon completion, they will be able to enter into an apprenticeship program immediately after graduating high school.

The other new dual credit program for Red Deer students in 2014-15 will be in power engineering. Red Deer Catholic pupils will be able to take online courses through NAIT or SAIT during the school year before participating in a summer onsite employment opportunity with an oil industry partner as they work towards accumulating 940 hours for apprenticeship training.

Other dual credit opportunities in Central Alberta include a health-care aide program for Red Deer and Stettler students and a marketing management course for Hunting Hills High School students.

The province is supporting the proliferation of such opportunities in Alberta as a way to boost high school completion rates and get more students into post-secondary studies. One of the huge benefits of the programs, said Red Deer Public Schools deputy superintendent Stu Henry, is that the post-secondary courses come at no cost to students while they are still in high school.

The SWAC initiative is the first of its kind in Alberta.

“Across the province right now, there are a number of dual credit projects and what you’re seeing right now is a lot of jurisdictions trying out different ones, and then the idea is we’ll share them into the pool later and all be able to take advantage of anything that’s been developed,” said Henry.

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