Dual credit program celebrates first grads

Nineteen Notre Dame High School students graduated as full-fledged health care aides from Red Deer College last week — including 13 Grade 11 students.

Nineteen Notre Dame High School students graduated as full-fledged health care aides from Red Deer College last week — including 13 Grade 11 students.

It was the first group of students from the Red Deer high school to graduate as health care aides after completing a two-year, dual credit program that gave students both high school CTS credits and college-level credits.

RDC’s health care aide program has been suspended for 2015-16.

Grade 12 student Mariah Hermary, 18, said she didn’t hesitate to take the program and felt lucky that it was available.

“It was one of the best classes I could take at the high school. It was a no-brainer for me. I wanted to take it,” Hermary said.

Hermary is one of the students who will be graduating twice this month.

“It felt weird almost because I was graduating college before I even graduated high school. My (high school) grad isn’t until two weeks from now. But I was cool.”

She said the program taught her how to help people in a professional way who can’t help themselves.

“I feel it was a good first step into the medical field. My ultimate end goal is to be a doctor,” Hermary said.

Gloria Antifaiff, School of Education dean at RDC, said the province’s dual credit strategy helps to personalize student’s high school experience.

The 2014-15 school year was also the first year for RDC’s School Within a College initiative that allowed 12 students from Central Alberta to begin an auto service technician apprenticeship program. A welding apprenticeship program will run next year.

RDC also offers high school students a business management course.

Programs are provided at not cost to students.

“It’s actually a pretty interesting way for high school students to explore new potential career opportunities and have a little taste of the post-secondary experience if they’re interested in it,” Antifaiff said.

As part of the health care aide program, a college instructor led classes at the high school, and students completed lab work at the college, usually on the weekends.

Madelene Caine, Notre Dame CTS teacher, said students appreciated the chance to become health care aides.

“Many of them were very interested in getting involved in some form of health care. Some of them are using this as a stepping stone towards pursuing other careers down the line in health care like nursing. And some of them are planning on having this as their full-time career when the finish,” Caine said.

Many students were offered jobs at health care facilities where they completed work practicums through the program, she said.

“Some of the residents’ families volunteered to write them reference letters so they definitely were received very warmly in the practicum placements. They were very much appreciated.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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