Kaylee is a dog-loving Grade 10 student who may not know what she wants to do when she’s done high school, but she is taking the steps to prepare herself for a rewarding career. I met Kaylee after finding out she was taking a week off high school classes to attend lumber grading school with her grandmother–part of her strategy to determine the career path she wants to take. Here is what lumber grading school’s youngest student has to say about her experience:

Tell me about yourself. 

I am a 16 year old in Grade 10. I love a challenge and also finding new interests. I love animals, especially dogs. I have my own husky named Darling. My family has four huskies in total. Some things that I like to do are working with my dogs, most things outside, sports, reading, spending time with family and friends, as well as watching the odd TV show or movie.

List three words that describe you: 

Motivated, Curious, and Caring.

What are your favourite subjects in school?

Math and Science.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Country, pop, and dance music.

What made you decide to attend lumber grading school?

My grandparents are in the lumber industry and I am interested in what they do. As well I have been working on keeping my options open, trying different fields and skills to see what really interests me.

As a full-time high school student, how did you manage to get away for a week for lumber grading school?

I asked my teachers for the schoolwork I’d be missing the week before I left for lumber grading school. I did some of that work the weekend before lumber grading school started. As well I did some the weekend after the course ended as it was a Monday to Friday course.

Tell me about your experience with lumber grading school. 

Going to lumber grading school was such a cool experience. It was very interesting and a challenge. But, it was so much fun. I learned how to measure defects on boards such as knots, skip, and wane. Also I learned how to identify different species of boards. In Alberta that is mainly SPF (spruce, pine, and fir). That is why most boards in Alberta are stamped “SPF”. I enjoyed the math as well as the atmosphere of the school. It made it very enjoyable. Being the youngest in the class was a challenge. Also having no background in lumber grading or about trees. It did help that I got the book for the course before the course actually started.

What advice would you give to another student thinking about lumber grading?

Go for it! It was an amazing experience. Study before you go and do your homework for the course.

What are your plans for after high school?

I am unsure of my plans after high school. What I am doing right now is taking the highest high school courses I can to keep my options open. As well as trying a lot of different things in different fields. Such as this lumber grading course or volunteering at a vet clinic and also being involved in different groups and programs at school.

What sort of community do you want to live in when you start your career?

I would love to live in a small community in northern Alberta. Somewhere everyone knows each other and everyone has a voice.

Try to describe what your ideal career path might look like long term.

My ideal path is a bit blurry. Either go to post-secondary schooling or get a job that I need further training but no post-secondary. Either way I hope to be doing something I love. So as graduation approaches I am working towards getting my path to come into focus.

Kaylee passed her lumber grading school exam with a mark much higher than most first time writers and earned her three-year certificate, opening doors for her to find summer work at the local sawmill. Whether she chooses a career path in lumber grading or some other field, this ambitious high school student has a bright path ahead.


  1. Kaylee is unusually introspected. How wonderful there was an opportunity for her to participate. Awesome!

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