Liam Tauson

Construction job strikes a chord with Belmont student

West Shore student finds focus working on new school site

Liam Tauson admits he hasn’t always shown up at school.

Even when the Grade 12 Belmont secondary student did attend, he was often late and didn’t always enjoy being there. Things changed when the carpentry program opened up in his second semester this year.

“I have always been more hands on, wanting to be outside … Whenever I am inside just sitting around for hours and hours, I lose interest,” he said.

“Here you don’t lose interest, there is always things to do and you always learn. (I) definitely didn’t give any effort into school, so this is really good. I learn a fair amount of new skills starting a first-year apprenticeship. I’m getting opportunities I wouldn’t get at school.”

He has set his goals now and hopes to get his Red Seal designation in carpentry. He’s grateful for the opportunity to take a more hands-on approach to his education. In recent months he’s worked as a labourer on the new Belmont school site, a job which has helped him focus and improve his life skills.

The threat of getting fired or losing his job and eduction is a constant reminder that being late and missing appointments doesn’t work in the real world.

The introduction at Belmont of the Trades Awareness Skills and Knowledge (TASK) program last fall is another way the school is offering students an alternative to the traditional curriculum.

Principal Ray Miller said every student is different and he’s excited the new situation seems to be working for Tauson.

“It has reached the point where right now we offer these programs created for young people like Liam,” Miller said. “We are trying to create more value to learning, where what you do translates into something that works in your adult life – not that it hasn’t always been. But it is definitely a shift to that focus to create something of value for students, something that they can take away from their high school experience and can manufacture a job or career or another learning (opportunity) in the future.”

Site foreman for the new Belmont school, Kyle Leslie, has been working with Tauson since the latter started cleaning, cutting and hammering his way onto the site in March, and said 18-year-old and others have been doing a good job.

“You can tell they want to be working, they are not just here because of school,” he said. “They like it and get to see all the different (tradesmen). At school they have their teacher it’s a completely different atmosphere. (This) is about working hard, showing up on time and not being afraid of breaking a sweat.”

Leslie, 28, understands Tauson’s situation. He, too, found his path through a trades program in high school. Ten years later, he is the foreman on one of the biggest construction projects in the West Shore.

“I did that program. I was one of the first to do the apprenticeship program as a student (in Haida Gwaii) for the same reason. I knew as a kid I was going to be doing this,” he said.

Tauson said it was the right call at the right time.

“It is great because this is an actual job. If it wasn’t for this I probably would have screwed myself at school. I can actually focus here, because I never did in school.”

alim@vicnews.com