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Exploring Opportunities in the PEACE Program

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Pictured is SCDSB PEACE program student Jessica Blais working on the wood lathe.

April 28, 2015 - Assistant Deputy Minister Janine Griffore and Nicole McAllister, ‎Education Officer visited St. Albert Learning Centre on April 22, 2015 to look at a unique program happening with students enroled in the Sudbury Catholic District School Board's PEACE program.

The PEACE program, which stands for Personalized, Experiential, Alternative, Catholic Education, is an alternative program for for secondary students who are disengaged, on a long term suspension or expulsion, behind in credit accumulation and have social/emotional issues. The students learn techniques to overcome obstacles all while earning credits towards their secondary school diploma and are supported with their social and emotional needs, and learn how to give back to the community through community partnerships.

At the end of last year, a proposal was submitted by staff, to bring in a project that would allow these students some hands on learning, and gain business experience. The Peace Pen program was born. The purpose of the Peace Pen program is to help the students to thrive in a non-traditional classroom setting. Through this project, the students earn credits by participating in different aspects of a school run business venture.

The “business” offers promotion materials to our board. The Peace Pen project involves the fabrication of customized, hand-made, one-of-a-kind wooden pens presented in engraved boxes. After purchasing a wood lathe and laser engraver, the class purchased special pen kits. Each pen, when complete, includes a written description of the program, signed by the student who created it. As well, it includes a description of the wood used for that particular pen.

This project has already blossomed into an engraving business as well, with requests coming in from the school board for specific engraving pieces used throughout the schools and buildings. Students are involved in different aspects of the Peace Pen project such as marketing, accounting, promotion and communication, inventory and production. According to Michel Grandmont, the board's secondary consultant who supports the class, “This contextualized approach to meeting curriculum expectations makes it real for students. They are actually operating a small enterprise, all the while meeting the different curriculum expectations,” explained Grandmont. “Depending on the tasks and activities the student is involved in, he or she will earn credits by meeting overall expectations in several secondary courses such as mathematics, business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and English.”

The students divide up the tasks such as production and the development of promotional materials such as brochures, website and the creation of an instructional video. One of the students involved in the program, Jessica Blais, was given the task of explaining to their Ministry of Education guests, the Peace program, the Peace Pen project, and how much both have changed her life. “Working with Peace Pens has forced me to leave my comfort zone and face my fear of talking to people,” Blais explains. “Once I overcame my fear, I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to. This small classroom business is teaching us valuable life lessons while we work toward achieving our diploma, which I now see in the near future. I am very grateful for this second chance.”

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