Not too many adults can say they graduated from college before high school and then have several job offers.
That’s the position that Siobhan Detkavich finds herself in, and she thanks School District 53 for it.
Detkavich was one of several young apprentices who attended a special ceremony last Wednesday night at Fairview Mountain Golf Club, where School District 53 received an award from the Industry Training Authority (ITA). The $5,000 award is for helping youth achieve success in the skilled trades. The money will be used to assist in the development of the district’s Youth Work in Trades program, which allows students to give work-based (apprenticeship) training while still in school.
In Oliver, Brittany Michaud, Jaden Alaric and Detkavich did exactly this.
Michaud chose culinary arts as a possible career because she enjoyed working in the kitchen at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.
“I like making food in different ways,” said Michaud, who finds the art of food presentation fascinating.
She learned some tips from one of the Okanagan’s finest chefs – Jenna Pillon from Terrafina at Hester Creek.
Detkavich also learned from Pillon by working at Terrafina herself.
The young apprentice is in the PC (professional cook) 2 course at Okanagan College and commutes to Kelowna every day.
Detkavich, who grew up watching the Food Network channel, showed an interest in her Grade 10 food class. This is where career education coordinator Rod Kitt steered her towards a cooking trade.
Detkavich admitted that taking a year off school (in Grade 11) was nerve-racking, but it may have been the best decision of her life.
She has made important connections with a number of chefs and has received job offers, including one on a cruise line.
In working for Terrafina and Browns Socialhouse in Kelowna, Detkavich has learned to take criticism.
“It’s not an easy trade to get into because of the (different) dietary conditions of people . . . but it’s a great way to be creative.”
Detkavich said the best part of a culinary career is that you can go anywhere to do it.
She praised the school district’s career education program for giving youth a “taste” of what’s out there and a “sense of the real world.”
She also thanked Kitt for giving her the “push” she needed to explore her career.
Alaric is currently apprenticing as an auto technician at Dean’s Garage in Osoyoos and plans to attend Okanagan College next spring to further his training.
Cole Hopkins from Osoyoos works as a welder for Constellation Brands and fabricates trailers for the winery.
And in Keremeos, Elijah Vesprey is working towards a culinary arts career. While attending high school, his greatest accomplishment was cooking for Cawston Primary students.
“I’m lucky to find a trade I really like. In culinary arts I’ve learned that you’ll never be out of work because everyone has to eat.”
Jeff Lekstrom, chief operating officer of ITA, recalled sitting in Grade 9 math class thinking about an NHL career.
“I wish I had paid more attention in math,” he said.
Lekstrom went on to obtain his BC A Level and Red Seal interprovincial certification in welding, and his Alberta and Saskatchewan Journeyman’s Certificate in welding.
“The trades got me everything I wanted in life, and more,” he said.
Lekstrom advises youth to pay attention to their math and English comprehension.
“I would say to a person that finds math challenging, to look around the environment, you need math in just about everything you do.”
Lekstrom said the most difficult part of finding relevance in the math you do in school is looking at it in a practical sense.
“Once you can find practical applications for the math it seems to be less challenging and then it can become something that you understand.”
By Lyonel Doherty