Maple Ridge High School program that gives students of diverse abilities ‘wings’ – Maple Ridge News

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An 18-year-old of diverse abilities and idiosyncrasies recently transformed the windows of the School District 42 Learning Services office within Thomas Haney High School (THSS) with his artwork.

Jacob, a student at Maple Ridge Secondary School (MRSS) and part of the Wings program, was handpicked by Shelli Silvestri, the Work Experience Facilitator for Students of Diverse Ability, to bring her works to life. the public domain.

“A big part of my job involves placing students from across our community in work experiences based on their passions, desires and goals for post-secondary education. Whether it is a paid job, a day program, or volunteering in the community, students need to learn by experience in meaningful situations to practice the skills they need to develop their skills. self-esteem and their connections as they enter life after high school, ”she explained.

Silvestri met Jacob a few months ago in a transition to adulthood group that she helps facilitate, and his works have inspired and made her very happy.

“I knew he was one of the students I was going to place in the community. I knew some of his needs. I knew it would be amazing for Jacob if he shared his gift with other people. So I asked the educational assistant who was supporting Jacob what she thought of the idea of ​​Jacob doing Christmas painting on the window in our learning department office, ”said Silvestri.

The education assistant thought it was a great idea and gave the green light.

“From there I’m happy to say Jacob loves coming to THSS and can take the elevator for his breaks. From the moment he started painting the windows of the Learning Services, students and staff as they passed gave Jacob plenty of positive feedback and it was evident that his art uplifted anyone who passed by. the beautifully lit window, ”said Silvestri.

Jacob is part of the Wings program, which is a small program within the MRSS that supports students with a variety of abilities. This is also her last year in the program, explained her support teacher, Ramona Cruikshank.

“Jacob has always had a love for art and he is immersed in his day. He also loves elevators and spending time at Thomas Haney High School this year was one of Jacob’s goals. Jacob worked hard to overcome challenges and work in different environments. Opportunities like this allow her to share her gift with others and interact with others outside of her mainnet, ”said Cruikshank.

What this experience means to Jacob, he explains in a very simple and down to earth way.

“Winter is my favorite season and Christmas is my favorite holiday. Drawing makes me happy. Painting on Thomas Haney’s windows makes others happy, ”said Jacob.

For Jacob, this work experience could potentially be the start of a job, painting in the community and finding a job while pursuing his passion, adds Silvestri.

“For me personally, it’s better than any paycheck. I like the community relations aspect for the students. Students who have challenges may need accommodations and a different way to achieve their goals. They may need more time, or adjustments during placement, to facilitate success, ”she said.

For Silvestri, the more people know about Jacob’s work, the better it is for everyone.

“Watching so many people stop, take a minute and smile at Jacob’s talents, that kind of joy should be shared with our entire community, not just the learning services community,” said Silvestri.


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Jacob, the 18-year-old from MRSS’s Wings program, painted the windows of the Learning Services office at Thomas Haney High School. (Shelli Silvestri / News Special)



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