This year, to help support student engagement in the skilled trades, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) 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 embrace trades and apprenticeship training, while also gaining a better understanding of the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
CDSBEO OYAP 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 CDSBEO OYAP program, after completing several cooperative education placements in grade 11 and 12.
“I’m a huge fan of OYAP,” 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 the Fat Les’s Chip Stand at the school in June. Plans are also underway to offer students free passes to an upcoming race at 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.”
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario operates 39 elementary and 10 secondary schools across eight counties. The CDSBEO offers excellence in Catholic education through provincial-leading programs to approximately 13,000 students.