By Spencer Seymour
Some things just go together really well. Peanut butter and jam. Salt and pepper. And, for the last two decades, the Independent and DCVI’s co-operative education program have fit right in on that list.
If you aren’t familiar with the co-op program, it is a credited course offered in many Canadian high schools, including St. Marys DCVI, and is essentially an internship program. Students in the course get the chance to work at a local business to gain important workplace experience and explore a field in which they may be interested to work. It has benefitted countless businesses and students alike over the years. But perhaps no one more so than the Independent.
There has always been a steady stream of students to do a co-op placement with the Independent. Frank Doyle remembers the early days of the paper taking in co-op students, with students like Julie White, Ashley House, and Kaitlyn McMorland to name just a few of the students he remembers from years ago. According to Doyle, one of the best things about taking in co-op students over the years was getting a steady stream of different perspectives around the paper.
The appreciation and enthusiasm for the program continued and grew even stronger under the ownership of Stewart Grant. Doyle and Grant shared a similar outlook on the benefits of bringing in co-op students and that relationship was only going to expand in the years that followed. One student who benefitted greatly from their co-op placement was Scott Maxwell. Now a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University in the Digital Media and Journalism program, Maxwell not only got experience within the journalism industry thanks to his co-op placement, but got confirmation for himself that it was indeed the career path he wanted to take. Maxwell told the Independent that he gained skills he needed to succeed at Laurier thanks to his placement.
Tyler Carruthers was another student who started a placement at the Independent. However, this particular placement would go on to be greatly consequential for the Independent, as Carruthers would parlay the placement into a job, eventually becoming the graphic designer for the paper. Anyone who has interacted with the paper over the last few years likely knows Carruthers, as he is now responsible for laying out the paper visually and designing ads.
I am also a by-product of the co-op program, as two placements I had during my high school tenure with the Independent eventually led to my first job in media. Now working primarily on St. Marys Radio and also writing for the paper, my ability to work such prominently in media would not have been possible without a co-op experience with the Independent.
The Independent could not have maintained such a strong relationship with the program without the program’s teachers over the years. Sue Lawrence, Annette Wrigley, and Jessica Chateauvert are just some of the teachers over the years who have offered their assistance and guidance with regards to developing co-op students. Futhermore, in the eyes of Grant, the extra help has allowed the paper to grow in many different ways, as well as forge relationships with younger people from the St. Marys area.
Since the Independent’s first publication, the newspaper and DCVI’s co-op program have been deeply intertwined. Scores of students have passed through the Independent and impacted it in some way. And in turn, for people like Maxwell, Carruthers and I, the impact on many students have not just meant earning two or four credits in high school, but have been the launching pad for multiple careers. However, even more than the careers that have been founded, the young lives that have been positively impacted, and even the growth of the Independent that can be attributed to the co-op students who have worked with the paper, the most valuable part of the Independent’s relationship with the co-op program is the students who are still to come, and the ways the Independent will continue to grow thanks to their placements.
By Spencer Seymour