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Programs of Choice: Students Showcase Experiences to Board of Education

Students from Burnaby’s secondary schools came to the January 2019 meeting of the Board of Education to talk about their own experiences with the District’s Programs of Choice.

The District offers programs that give students the chance to excel in a specific area of interest – all while fulfilling their academic requirements. There are dozens of what we call Programs of Choice, with everything from technology, educational enrichment, language programs, sports academies and the arts to trades and career training.

Kaleb Borg commutes from his home in White Rock each weekday to attend École Cariboo Hill Secondary’s Lacrosse Academy.

“My dream is to get a Division 1 scholarship for lacrosse,” said the Grade 9 student to the Board. “With the academy, I always have a stick in my hand and my game has definitely improved. The SFU coaching is really important to me for development.”

Fellow Cariboo student Acacia Philcox is in Grade 10, and her first year in the DigiPen Gaming Academy. It’s done in partnership with the DigiPen Institute of Technology, and offers students in Grades 8-12 the chance to gain valuable hands-on experience in game design and production.

“When I sat down at my computer the first day my head filled with all of the opportunities this class could offer. It’s everything I could hope for, including community connections with industry. I love art and I love gaming. It’s surreal for me to be able to play my own game and watch my characters move around. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.”

École Moscrop Secondary is one of several schools that offers French Immersion. Moscrop’s Grade 11 student Emilija Veljkovic told the board what it has meant for her.

“I started French Immersion in Kindergarten because my parents put me in it. Today I choose to stay because of what it brings to my life. I have learned so much and have so many opportunities because of it. My fellow students in it have become like a family to me.”

Moscrop also offers a Health Sciences Program for students throughout the District. It’s done in partnership with BCIT, where many simulations and program-specific labs are held. Students get a chance to learn through patient-case scenarios. Naili Salami travels from Burnaby Central Secondary for the classes.

“Without this program I don’t think I would have known what I wanted to do,” said the Grade 12 student. “I originally thought about being a doctor, but this has opened my eyes to health professions I didn’t even know existed that I would enjoy more.”

Tia Kinkar was also looking to be exposed to new things through the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) program at Byrne Creek Secondary.

“I chose this for a challenge,” said the Grade 8 student. “I wanted something that would keep me on my toes and where I could learn a lot about many different things.”

Fellow student Rolando Carpio Martinez, who is in Grade 11, told the Board about his experience in the Graphics & Media Arts Program at Byrne Creek.

“I don’t feel like I’m going to a class,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to a place where I am free to express myself and create.”

From Burnaby North Secondary, Grade 11 student Zuzanna Liniewski shared what she has gained from the Film and Broadcast Program.

“We have had a chance to work with CBC and Global TV. All while learning so much, including how to use film to build emotion with the viewer.”

Fellow Burnaby North student Kevin Tong is in Grade 12 in the AP Capstone Program. It provides students in Grades 11 & 12 rigorous development of the skills that are critical for post-secondary success.

“I always have trouble explaining what this program is, because unlike regular courses like math or science this can be anything. Every student has the chance to do research on their own interest and it has been really great for me to pursue my passion.”

The Board thanked the students for their highly articulate observations about how the programs have offered value to their educational experiences at Burnaby Schools.

Learn more about Programs of Choice in Burnaby Schools.