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Looking at opportunity

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 28, 2010

RANKIN INLET - A group of nine Grade 12 students from Rankin Inlet got to take a very special trip earlier this month.

NNSL photo/graphic

Hilary Irwin of Rankin Inlet feels a mechanical robot breathing in Algonquin College's nursing lab in Ottawa, Ont., earlier this month. - photo courtesy of Katharine O'Connell

The journey was Maani Uljuk Ilinniarvik's (MUI) second annual grad trip, which gives graduate students a look at some postsecondary options available to them.

The students also take part in a number of educational and recreational activities during stops in Winnipeg, Man., and Ottawa, Ont.

The grads were accompanied by teachers Katharine O'Connell of MUI and Billy Gallant of Simon Alaittuq School.

O'Connell said MUI had planned to send 12 students on the trip, but only nine kept up with the necessary criteria of good grades, solid attendance and helping with fundraising events.

She said fundraising started much earlier this time, so the school could accommodate more than the five students who made the first trip in 2009.

"We started fundraising for this in September, which gave us a lot more time than we had for the first trip," said O'Connell.

"That allowed me to create a budget so we knew how much we had to raise, and then we scheduled events like bingo, a poker tournament, pizza days, a penny sale, raffle and the canteen profits from the Laura Gauthier Memorial volleyball tournament.

"Each student helped out by planning, organizing and volunteering their time to take part in certain events.

"We also had a number of organizations and businesses help out with airline tickets for the raffle or cash donations."

Among the students' academic visits were Algonquin College, Nunavut Sivuniksavut, the University of Ottawa and Red River College in Winnipeg, Man.

Their educational and recreational activities included paintballing, a visit to the Royal Canadian Mint, the Parliament Buildings, market shopping, go-carting and a formal evening of dinner and a production of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.

They also made a trip to an adventure park, visited the Canadian War Museum and the Museum of Science and Technology, and took in an NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres, which included meeting Prime Minister Steven Harper.

O'Connell said each student reacted differently to the schools they visited.

She said some were really interested in the university, while others felt it wasn't for them.

"A number of them really loved Algonquin College and were quite impressed by what they saw there.

"It really depends on what a student is looking for, and that's why we try to offer a little bit of everything.

"Every student on the trip now has an idea of what they want to do, whether that's go into a program right away or waiting a year before continuing on.

"Quite a few of them are applying for programs now, and that's really exciting because one of the goals of the trip is to open their eyes to the opportunities available to them."

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