Above left: MCHS teacher Michelle Receveur and Administrative Professionals Program student Amber Serafinchan pose for a photo in the program room.
by Stephen Dafoe
In the only program of its kind in Sturgeon County, Morinville Community High School has been offering students some real-world job skills thanks to a partnership with Norquest College. The 11-month program, now in its eighth month, is a tuition-free dual-credit program, giving participants high school and post-secondary credits simultaneously.
The Administrative Professionals Program teaches business office procedures, business communications, event management, and professional relations. Additionally, students will learn their way around a variety of software, including Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Excel, as well as keyboarding, and accounting.
“It’s been a fast and furious few months. We’re packing a lot of information into some short times,” said MCHS teacher and program instructor Michelle Receveur, adding the program began with 18 students in the fall and currently has 16 students taking part in the program “All the skills they are learning can be applied to an office setting – not specific offices such as lawyers, but businesses. Anything they might learn in an office is what they are learning to apply through the classroom.”
Receveur sees the program as valuable for the returning Grade 12 students taking part in the initiative.
“A lot of the students didn’t know what they wanted to do after Grade 12, so these are all skills that can transfer to other college courses. I think it’s awesome that any other institution they might apply to would see these students having successfully achieved a certificate which shows they’re hard-working, not to mention the life skills that they are able to use in their own lives,” Receveur said.
The instructor points out that students will find the program is different than a high school class regarding attendance and work ethic. It is recommended for returning Grade 12s due to the workload.
One returning Grade 12 student who is benefitting from the program is Amber Serafinchan.
“I wanted to try something that would give me the opportunity to put my foot in the adult world,” she said. “When you come out of high school it is like coming off a boat. You have no idea what to do. This course really gives you an understanding of the career world.”
Several months into the program, Serafinchan said she is finding some aspects of the program more difficult than others.
“It is definitely a step up from high school on the workload,” Serafinchan said. “But as long as you manage your time, it’s not too bad.”
Serafinchan said she hopes the skills she learns in the program will help her find work in a Children’s Services office as an admin. From there she hopes to move on to become a paralegal.
Last year the school invested more than $100,000 into the program through its budget and a $30,000 grant from Alberta Education grant funding. The school converted a computer lab into the program room. The funding was for the conversion, computers, wiring and tech, as well as textbooks for the program.
“It’s been wonderful. The kids are getting some serious life skills that are going to help in their future,” said MCHS Vice Principal Wade Cox. “They are right into it. They are so excited and have been so happy to have this program to help them in the future.”
The 11-month program includes a one-month practicum at the end.
The Administrative Professionals Program is one of many that will be showcased Mar. 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the school during the annual MCHS Open House.
“They [parents and students] can come in and see what we do,” Receveur said.” “It really helps them look ahead, and it shows how creative Morinville is trying to be at MCHS just to offer as many different programs as we can for the students we have.”
For more information on the program, contact MCHS at 780-939-6891.