The Vancouver Police Department conducted a Student Challenge for Vancouver students who are interested in a career in Policing. Windermere had 4 students selected to participate in the challenge that took place over Sporing Break. The student reflections below provide insight on their experiencing.
Billy Wu Reflection
The Vancouver Police
Department Student Challenge has been around for 30 years. This year was my
year as I was lucky to have been accepted to be one out of the 48 applicants
for the 20th annual VPD Student Challenge! Recommended by Constable Mariya
Zhalovaga (Windermere School Liaison Officer), this was the best 8-day youth
Police Academy I’ve ever been a part of! With many inspirational speakers
coming in from different departments of the force, challenging challenges and a
handful of new friends, there’s not much to say other than good words about
Days start off early meaning
that a good sleep schedule is required in order to stay awake during legal
studies. I found that the first few days were the hardest as most people were
getting to know each other, however, the fear of not knowing anyone quickly
subsides as the academy progresses. I loved how the program reinforced the
importance of teamwork! In addition, the speakers that were invited frequently
mentioned teamwork which served as a constant reminder, especially when team
challenges were introduced. It pushed everyone to truly work as one. My
personal favorite thing out of the program had to have been the simulations. The
simulations leave me speechless purely from how real the entire duration of the
simulation felt as I was doing it. Lastly, came the ranch. Three days and two
nights. The fights over who got to shower first, who could eat the most
pancakes at breakfast and the sleepless nights in the cabin due to laughing at
the simplest of things. This was where the everlasting friendships were made!
The program provided so much
content and the liaison officers were so proud of the program that the
atmosphere was extremely positive. What I’ve explained doesn’t merely cover all
that this 8-day Youth Police Academy offers. If I had a time-machine, I would
go back and do the whole challenge all over again, start to finish.
From March 12-18 I was given the great
privilege, of being apart of the 2017 student challenge. During this amazing week I learned a number
of topics including legal studies, where we learned the difference between common
law & civil law. Another subject we were educated on were self defence as
well as when & which appropriate
times/ technics we are permitted to use. The next one is my favourite,
tackling. We learned the proper & appropriate self defence proficiency. This included pepper spray,
batons, handcuffs & a series of guns. I also had the wonderful opportunity
of nesting members of the VPD on their days off to give us a better
understanding in use of equipment. Sargent Daniels and her husband came in with
her husband to show us how traffic control & speeding laser radars. Another
officer came in from the K-9 unit and revealed surprising facts about the K-9s,
one of them is how the k-9s actually
have silver caps on their canines for a more secure and gripped hold. Another
wonderful person that came in was Sargent James Pearson who led the 2017
student challenge drill team. He was very professional and precise with each
count and command yet a very humours and smiley person. I had an amazing time
learning drill with Sargent Pearson & also may Pursue it in the near
future. To conclude this reflection I'd like to give a special thanks to the
constables who led the student challenge and for going out of their way to
makes sure it was memorable for the students. I hope all the constable
acknowledge how respected and admired
they are. I also hope that they know that we
will always remember them for influencing us to achieve the best because
they could see the best in each and everyone of us when we couldn't. How the
pushed us to our very last straw when we were so so close to giving up, yet
they kept pushing us because they knew we could do it. How they taught us the
importance of the true meaning of a team and to stick together as a team as
well as to NEVER leave a team mate behind under any circumstances. I'd also
like to give a very special thank you to Constable Zhalovaga for always seeing
the best version of myself when even I couldn't. For always pushing me to my
very last straw even when I was about to fall down and get back up & always
giving me that great big blissful smile of reassurance. You taught me the most
important lesson in life, which is to never ever give up on anything in life
because I'm always a step closer to the finish line than I think. I thank you
for despite being a mother of 2, always
sparing the time to check up on me and making sure that we both knew I was
keeping up the good work. You truly are my Guardian angel.
Asia Przyborowska Reflection
Sunday, March 12, 2017
woke up a little late, due to the unfortunate event of my alarm clock – or my
phone rather – not jumping forward an hour as it should have for Daylight
Savings. Without Mummy calling down to tell me to get my rear end upstairs, I
might have been late for my first day of the Student Challenge. I quickly got
ready to go, my bag already packed thanks to the insistence and wisdom of my
mums the night before. Racing up the stairs, I grabbed two blueberry muffins for
breakfast, my lunch from the fridge, and was out the door in seconds.
for the bus, impatient and getting more worried with each minute that passed.
Finally – after what seemed like hours – the bus arrived. The trip took no more
than 30 minutes total – I was still 15 minutes early. There was a police
officer waiting for me – well, for the Student Challenge members, really – and
was led upstairs. Once upstairs, I was told to find my seat, which was
conveniently the first one I saw. Beside my chair was a duffel bag – like the
bags sports players use to carry their equipment. Turns out the bag I’d brought
with me was completely unnecessary.
arrival of all the members of the 2017 Student Challenge, we were told to
change into our uniforms, which we would be wearing all week. We reached into
our new bags and pulled out a t-shirt, pants, a hoodie and a jacket. We headed
to the bathroom, got dressed and went back inside the classroom where we would
be spending most of our time.
We did a
team building exercise where we interviewed one person from our team – though
in blue and green’s case, there was one group of three – so that we could get
to know our teams better.
orientation and introduction were complete, we went down a level and all filed
in to a smaller classroom where the ERT – Emergency Response Team – was waiting
for us. They put on a short video for us to show exactly what it is that they
do – though the two ERT members teaching us said that they don’t often use most
of the stuff shown in the video. The two ERT members took us to the kiosk to do
a relay race/obstacle course. We also got to see one of their armoured
ERT, we were sent for lunch, where the blue team decided to be one step ahead
of everyone else and chose our team captain early. We headed straight into I
& P – Investigation and Patrol. The leaders showed us a Power Point where
we took notes before we set out to do some Radio Procedures. During Radio
Procedure, we had to follow commands given to us by ‘dispatch’ – or our
instructors pretending to be dispatch!
came drill – either the most exciting or scariest part of the day – depending
on who you are, of course. One of the kids just would NOT stop wiggling and
Sargent Major James Pearson called him the ‘c’ word. Everyone was shocked out
of their minds. It would have been funny if we hadn’t had to do push-ups
because of it.
we headed back inside, our instructors saying that we could put our run off
until tomorrow, which most people liked, so instead of running, we had a quick
debrief and were sent home.
Monday, March 13, 2017
This morning was
better; I actually got up on time today. I arrived early again. We did our
timed run first thing in the morning. I got really wet. We got back to the
classroom, back to power points. We had legal studies and team building where
one person drew a picture, another person faced away with a paper and a pen,
with one person at their back describing the picture. One boy – Miguel – drew
an elephant just like the one you see to the side. Cute, right?
The next part of the day was
Success, where Constable Mariya Zhalovaga told us her story about how she had
been a participant in the student challenge when she was a student. She told us
all about what they did, and showed us pictures of her time doing the program.
It was really cool listening to Cst Zhalovaga’s story. It gave me insight and
perseverance. I was struggling to see how I would get through the week –
especially seeing as how I hadn’t done much hard physical activity for nearly 2
After Cst Zhalovaga told her story,
we heard from recruiting, who gave us free stuff. They told us about training,
about what they used to do, about what is needed to get on the force. There was
a jail guard there as well, who told us about his job. He told us that all VPD
members do jail work; I think it’s a mandatory process to get onto the force.
Even Cst Zhalovaga worked as a jail guard! The recruiters were really nice and
allowed us to ask lots of questions – which we did.
After recruiting came traffic. Two
officers came in and talked about their jobs. They told us stories of stupid
people who did stupid things on the road. We went outside to use a radar gun,
which was super cool! Then, sadly, lunch came along and we had to go back
We had more legal studies after
lunch, and another round of I&P before we headed to drill. Drill was
painful due to the amount of push-ups we had to do; the guys didn’t shave. I
felt like dying after those stinking push-ups.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Today was the POPAT; the worst and most grueling physical training exercise
course THING I have EVER experienced. We ran around an obstacle course; refer
to picture above. There are numbers indicating each step of the course. We had
to run the course 6 times before moving on to the push and pull machine. After
that, there was a 4-foot pole aspect of the entire thing. This part included
lying on your stomach, jumping up, getting over the bar, lying on your back,
getting up, jumping over the bar, lying on your stomach, getting up, jumping
over the bar, etc. We had to do it 5 times on each side. By the time I’d
finished, Sargent Major James Pearson had come in – JUST TO SEE ME! How awesome
After the POPAT, we switched to
I&P before having lunch. We went back to the gym where we’d just done the
POPAT and did control tactics, learning how to take someone down. We also did
what is called a Caterpillar push-up, where you line up with your feet on the
shoulders of the person behind you and then do a push-up. THAT was horrible –
mostly because the blue team had completed the push-up successfully, but none
of the teachers saw. Blue team felt it was unfair.
After control tactics, we had a
debrief and went home.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Today we were at 2010 Glen Drive;
this is the Tactical Training Centre (TTC) where we spent the whole day
learning about some really cool things. We had the Welcome and lecture first
before we were divided into 3 groups. My group went to the shooting range
first. While there, we shot a pistol, a .40 carbine, a shotgun and a fully
automatic M13. I had the most success with the M13, sadly.
Next we went to the gym and did
some more control tactics. During the lessons, we were called out to do
simulations (or sims for short) and my partner and I went first for the doubles
sim. We were sent into a dispute between roommates. I managed to get one guy to
sit on the couch calmly, while my partner dealt with the other one. I turned
around and the next thing I knew, there was a gun pointed at me. Granted, it
was a fake gun with a blank in it, but I now have a deeper appreciation for
cops who’ve had guns pointed directly at them. Thankfully, my partner shot the
guy, but by that time everything was pretty much over.
The next simulation, I was sent in
alone. We were pushed down to the ground and had to get up quickly and diffuse
the situation at hand. There was this guy yelling obscenities at me, saying the
cops were following him, etc. and then he pulls an axe out of I don’t know
where. He starts coming towards me, around this table separating us, and I
shoot. I purposefully aim for his leg, though the pistol had blanks so the
actor just took it as a shot to the chest or something of the sort.
After control tactics, we were
taken outside to do some traffic simulations. We ‘pulled over’ a car and asked
the driver for his license and registration, got a query on the plate and the
license, and gave him a ticket. We went back inside to do a few more
simulations, and I got to play the role of an asshole… more than once. It was
fun to watch the police officers get flustered, not knowing what to do with me.
Finally, lunch rolled around and we all ate, discussing the events.
Once that was done, we got to meet
the mounted police. They were so cool! There was a quarter horse – the more
common type of horse on the force – and a white stallion. The stallion
constantly flipped his lip up and down, which made the group laugh – he was
more ADD than the quarter horse. The officers told us that they had to
desensitize their horses to all the scary things so that they wouldn’t spook
while on the job. Sadly, the officers had to go, so our day ended and we set
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Today started off boring, with
I&P. We were subjected to more powerpoints, which were fine by me because
Constable MacLaughlin was really funny. He would tell us stories of the stupid
things people did and how he had to deal with them. We learned about drug
trafficking and domestic calls. He explained to us that one time he was called
in by some neighbours who had heard screaming, but by the time they got there
the house was quiet. The police officers knocked on the door and a lady
screamed, “Help, he’s going to kill me!” before a man called, “Everything is
FINE!” The police took the opportunity to break down the door and there on the
floor was a woman, above her, a man with a knife poised to stab. It was a
lesson learned for all of us.
After I&P, a man came and
talked about Major Crimes. He showed us some graphic photographs of a crime
scene, which actually turned out to be a suicide. It was gruesome. The guy cut
into his own stomach, his intestines pouring out of his belly. The man
discussed another murder with us; a mother dead in the bathroom with a towel
over her face. Her daughter had killed her. It was horrible, really.
After learning of these horrible
cases, we went to drill. We didn’t have to do any push-ups today. Well, the
guys who didn’t shave had to, but not the rest of us. Sargent Major James
Pearson let us off early and we got a head start to Timberline Ranch. It was about
an hour’s drive.
Once at the ranch, we were sent to
our cabins and told to immediately go to the classroom. We listened to the camp
rules, and then had more legal review. It was the last time my black shoes were
clean. We went out for a mud run, where I lost my shoe twice. Thankfully dinner
wasn’t long after that, though I didn’t get to have a shower because some
people took far too long. The day wasn’t over yet, though.
We went through more simulations –
six of them in total – in groups of four. We had to deal with several
situations – some of which involved foul language and mature subject matter.
There was a break and enter case, a domestic abuse case, a suspicious persons
case, a road rage case, a speeding case, and the loitering of two drunks. It was
all really fun.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Today we had inspection before
breakfast. We had to stand and wait while our instructors inspected us. After
passing the inspection, we went inside the dining hall and were able to eat. We
headed straight for drill, which didn’t last too long. We did fairly well, to
be honest. But it was what was to come next that I was excited for the most.
The dogs were ridiculously cute. They were so happy to be working – or in their case,
playing – that I couldn’t help but be happy, too. Their owners, showing off
their speed had the dogs doing tricks for us. One of the dogs even got swung
around while it held on to the arm sleeve its owner was wearing! It was all
just fun and games to the dog, just another day playing. We got to learn about
how the dogs catch criminals, and how they
take them down. It was all really fun!
After the dog squad, we had another
mud run. It was HORRIBLE. We were knee deep in mud – yucky, icky, horse-poopy,
water-goopy mud. It was awful. At least it was over fast. We got changed,
showered and prepped for lunch, then headed to the classroom for more control
tactics. We learned about pressure points and how to use pepper spray, though
the two bottles my partner and I tried were utterly empty, so while the rest of
the members got wet, I stayed BONE DRY! MWAHAHAHAHA!
We had dinner not long after that,
then my group set out to do the challenges that the other half of the group had
to do the day before. As a group, we had to get 11 people up and over a 12 foot
wall, over a 6 foot wheel that looked an awful lot like a sideways spindle –
also called the meat grinder by our leaders – had to arrange ourselves on a log
in alphabetical order by last name, then get off the log in backwards order,
and then balance a teeter-totter like wooden thing without it touching the
ground. We finished an hour earlier than the time the other group did to finish
the tasks the day before. Nonetheless, we got to sleep for an hour longer than
the rest of our cabin-mates.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Today is the last day. We had a
timed run before breakfast, which I was the only one smart enough to prepare
for. Before the run, I went into the dining hall to have a muffin. Then we go
out for a 1.5 k run. This run is just as painful as the last, but I manage to
get through it. Then we have breakfast, which – as usual – is uneventful. After
we’d finished our meal, we are sent to our cabins to study for the exams coming
up. The exams were my least favourite part of the whole thing.
Once the exams were done, we all
wrote reflections on our time at the VPD Student Challenge. I think mine was
the longest. We had lunch, and then the last day of drill before we had to pack
up. We are released from the station when we arrive home.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
I almost didn’t make it to
Killarney on time. I raced out the door, forgetting my nametag – which was
somewhere in my messy room. I tried to get my brother to find it but my room
was far too cluttered for him to know what he was looking for. Thankfully, Mama
saved the day and found the darned thing for me. The hour-long ceremony is
rather boring. We have a nice meal at the end and watch the video one of the
officers put together for us. I can’t wait to see it. We sit with Ashley and
her dad and have a nice conversation with them. It’s nice to know they are
doing well. There are photos being taken all over the place and I feel like
many people are pulling me every-which-way for a picture. We say our good-byes
and Mummy, Mama, Adam and I head out the door and home.
All in all, this may have been one
of the best spring breaks ever!
Thank you for reading!