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Friday, February 3, 2023
Elementary school students get a glimpse of college life


Elementary school students got a sneak peek into college life last week.

Niagara College held its annual Destination College workshop to welcome about 400 students from 12 elementary schools across Niagara Region.

The event was held at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus on May 28 and 29 and the Welland campus on May 30 and 31.

Grade 7 students from the Niagara Catholic District School Board and the District School Board of Niagara visited both campuses and learned more about offered programs and services by participating in hands-on activities.

The annual workshop is funded by the provincial government. The $30,000 cost covers organizational and transportation costs, said Phil Hayes, associate director of recruitment at Niagara College.

Niagara College started organizing the Destination College workshop about 15 years ago. The college hosts about 100 students a day who split into groups rotating between the interactive sessions and attending presentations on college life.

Working with the two Niagara school boards, the college makes sure different schools are hosted every year. Organizers also try to identify schools that have a lot of “first generation” students or schools that have “populations that need additional support,” said Hayes.

Some of the workshops, offered at the NOTL campus, included making ice-cream in a bag in the culinary lab and creating white clover seed balls for bees in the environmental lab. In a Dragons’ Den-inspired business workshop, students had to create and pitch a product, while at an event management workshop, students got to plan their own Grade 8 graduation.

Students at the Welland campus crafted faceless dolls to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada,  worked with an oscilloscope to generate sounds and made their own Triangle Peg Game.

Such hands-on workshops allow students to start thinking and exploring some of their future career paths now.

“For the most part, the theme is students had no idea this goes on in postsecondary,” said Hayes. “For many of the students – and this is exactly why we are doing this – they’ve heard about college and university, they don’t necessarily know the difference nor do they know much about it for the most part.”

Hayley Woehl, who will graduate from the college’s business administration and marketing program in June, said her experience helping to organize and plan the event was “daunting” at times.

“But it’s really fun to see it come to life,” she said.

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