ST. MARYS, ONT. -- Maurice Kiestra is only in grade 11, but in February and March, he was technically, a college student.

“I really like it. I’ve never done anything like this before. I enjoy it very, very, much. I’m not going to take it for granted,” he says.

As part of a new co-operative agreement between Fanshawe College and the Avon Maitland District School Board, a Dual Credit college course in sheet metal, is being offered at St.Marys DCVI.

“Teaming up with them gives us the ability to dive a little deeper into sheet metal projects. Fanshawe was great to provide materials, so these guys can get lots of experience, and show them what it’s like to come into the trades,” says St. Marys DCVI instructor, Chris Huber.

The 39 students have two instructors, Chris Huber, and Jared Petteplace, from Fanshawe, teaching them a college level course in sheet metal. Students are temporarily enrolled as college students, and earn college credits.

“They’d have no trouble jumping into any sheet metal course and be ahead of the curve, which helps us, for sure,” says Fanshawe’s Dual Credit teacher, Jared Petteplace.

The underlying goal says Petteplace, is to drive as many students into skilled trades, as possible.

“This is great, that they get to experience what a college environment and classroom and projects would be like,” says St. Marys DCVI principal, Scott Richardson. “To me, that gives them the confidence to succeed at the next step and hopefully they’re encouraged to pursue some post secondary or an apprenticeship,” he continues.

The high school-aged, but temporary college students, from across Huron-Perth, that we talked to, like the Dual Credit program a lot.

“Even mapping out the projects and designing the different sheet metal projects. I really enjoy doing that,” says Lydia Taylor, grade 11 student taking the Dual Credit sheet metal course.

“Nobody understands the needs for the trades. I mean everything built here is from a trade. Mr. Huber and Jared have been a big help, and I’ve learned a lot,” says Maurice Kiestra, also taking the Dual Credit course.

Organizers say if successful, other college courses could be offered in the Avon Maitland District School Board, through Fanshawe College.