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New option for Crowsnest Pass youth

Sunday, 15 September 2013. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

New option for Crowsnest Pass youth

A new option for C.N.P. youth

By Brad Quarin

A new outreach school, known as Outreach West or McGillivray Creek High School, opened last week to provide Crowsnest Pass students with an alternative means of education.

The outreach school is located on the second floor of M.D. McEachern Community Centre and offers the Alberta curriculum, primarily through one-on-one instruction.

“I’m excited, because I do a lot of work with kids now that are struggling in the school setting, so I see the need,” says Lori Prentice. She’s teaching English and social studies at the outreach school, while John Bole is teaching math and science. “We have our fingers crossed that it’s going to be overused rather than underused.”

Outreach programs are a government initiative, and every other high school in the school division has one. This is Crowsnest Consolidated High School’s first.

The youth benefiting from the new program would be junior or senior high school students under 20, who may be under one of a number of circumstances.

For example, some may have failed a course and need to redo it. With a smaller student body these days, courses are usually offered at CCHS only once a year, so the student can retake a class in outreach school and still graduate that year.

Other students may have work or sports in the way of regular class times and still others “want to zip ahead,” Lori says. Students facing anxiety, depression or other medical conditions may benefit as well. “Sometimes the quiet ones that you don’t really notice are falling behind.”

CCHS doesn’t actually know how many young people are living in the area and not going to school, she says. This may be a way to reach them.

The program isn’t meant for special needs students, who Lori says are “served really well” in the regular school system.

Ultimately, a goal would be for outreach school students to be reintegrated into the public school.

CCHS applied to the school board and provincial government to start the outreach program, prepared a detailed proposal and received approval in June.

As word started getting out, the outreach school received its first registration, with a few other students expressing interest.

Starting the school has been challenging and exciting, because of uncertainty about who will use it, Lori says. Depending on who the students are, the schedule of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays may change, and include evenings, weekends and summer school.

The outreach school has regular school fees, and there will be a bus going between CCHS and MDM. It’s hoped other students will find a way to get there.

Lori and John will be teaching at the outreach school some of the time and will be at CCHS at other times. “We’re hoping that’s one of the strengths, that I’ll know some of the kids because I’ve taught them already,” Lori says. The one-on-one approach could also allow for academic and personal counselling.

They hope to officially name the outreach school McGillivray Creek High School, after an early Crowsnest Pass mine, thereby reflecting the past and economics of the community.


From the Sept. 11/13 print edition of Shootin’ the Breeze.
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