Special Needs

Matchstick Workshop Takes Focus, at Focus

Montreal - Wednesday, November 16, 2016

While entrepreneurship is not an official course at Focus Alternative High School in NDG, through its Work-Oriented Training Pathway (WOTP) program students are learning the ins-and-outs of both the business and media worlds.

Officially dubbed Matchstick Workshop, the program began with the creation of a YouTube channel to broadcast morning announcements. Over the course of the past year, it evolved into a viable business, whereby in addition to staying on top of technology and marketing, students have begun to expand into hands on crafting through the design and creation of bracelets, pre-stretched canvases as well as minor construction projects to improve the school.

Currently, the students have begun a bookbinding project whereas they will be producing hand-made journals. “We would turn the classroom into a newsroom; the idea was that every student had a segment that they were in charge of, they would go off and write it every day,” said Matt Shapiro, a teacher at Focus High School. “From that, we decided that since we were doing the WOTP program, we would keep creating the videos, but turn it into a mini-business. We are constantly building and creating whatever we can think of.

Focus is one of eight schools in the English Montreal School Board’s Alternative Outreach system. The school welcomes students whom have had difficulties adapting to or learning in the mainstream system.

The student population comes from all different types of backgrounds. Everywhere in Focus, we try to create a family oriented atmosphere; that’s why we do these closed classrooms,” added Shapiro. “Our attendance is up, our success rate is way up and I think it’s in large part due to the success we foster with this.

The handcrafted bracelets and journals will be on sale at the EMSB Administration Building during the annual Chairman’s Luncheon, prior to Winter Break.

Focus School’s Morning Announcements can be viewed here.

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