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Students Develop Fresh Ideas to Encourage Residents to Live, Work and Play in York Region
News Release
Students Develop Fresh Ideas to Encourage Residents to Live, Work and Play in York Region

Students from 10 different schools were challenged last week to come up with creative ideas to help build and promote York Region as a vibrant arts and culture scene to encourage residents and visitors to live, work and play here.

Students learned about Indigenous cultures, the arts scene and labour market in York Region as well as the interconnections between art, culture and food in a vibrant community. They spoke with local artists and arts organizations, businesses and professional planners at the event, which took place at the newly renovated Old Town Hall in Newmarket.  

Their ideas ranged from apps, scholarships and organizations that would promote youth engagement in the arts to water festivals that would use the arts to highlight clean water issues affecting Indigenous communities.

“This was a great event. We were all there to share ideas on how to improve things and when you get a group of people like that in one space – people who want to create and build – that is so powerful. We saw the creators coming out in all of us. Everyone who leaves here today will leave knowing something new,” said Alexis Murrell, Grade 12 student at Unionville H.S.

Organized with the Workforce Planning Board of York Region, York Region Arts Council and the Town of Newmarket, this event is one of several the Board is offering this year in collaboration with community organizations to support innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship training for Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) students.

“We are so pleased to provide opportunities like this for our students that enable them to engage with community organizations, collaborate, innovate and problem solve. They are putting into practice skills that will benefit them in the future,” said Corrie McBain, Chair of York Region District School Board."

“This is a great opportunity for students to learn more about York Region, and to develop and apply their critical thinking and problem solving skills to address real issues,” said Heather Sears, Superintendent of Education, Curriculum and Instructional Services. “Our students are creative and innovative, and to have an opportunity to share their ideas with community partners and decision makers is empowering.” 

“This event provided students with an opportunity to use the skills and techniques they have learned in the classroom and apply them to a real life challenge presented by a community stakeholder. Students’ pitches were creative, entrepreneurial and well presented.  These are keys skills that students will utilize in their future careers,” said Tina Stevens, Project Manager, Workforce Planning Board of York Region.

“This program was a fantastic way for students to link their academic learning and personal experience with real world industry challenges and opportunities. Our team was impressed with the students’ dynamic ideas and responses to the challenge that was presented. It was valuable for all involved,” said Samantha Wainberg, Executive Director of York Region Arts Council.

Specialist High Skills Major programs let students experience a range of customized, career-focused learning opportunities while working towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. YRDSB has 32 secondary schools offering over 103 separate programs that represent 13 specific sectors of the economy, including arts and culture, business, and health and wellness.

Fostering external relationships in support of student innovation and entrepreneurship is part of the Board’s Modern Learning Strategy.


York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 124,000 students in 177 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about the York Region District School Board, please visit the Board website and follow @YRDSB on Twitter.


For more information contact:

Dawn Clayden, Corporate Communications

Tel: 905-727-0022 ext. 2913


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