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Schools celebrate academic success

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 11, 2012

Graduation ceremonies dot the calendars of parents and school officials between the months of June and September and district education officials say they've coming to the end of a very positive year.

"It's been a good year for grads (in Sahtu schools)," said Seamus Quigg, superintendent for the Sahtu Divisional Education Council, of his districts 25 grads. "Given our numbers and size of our high schools, this is actually a good graduation rate for us."

Other district officials noted graduation numbers have decreased or stayed consistent over past years but caution the numbers most likely reflect local demographics and not school programming issues. "(Principals in the South Slave region) noted that there has been a decline (in graduation numbers)," said Michael Kenny, public affairs co-ordinator for the South Slave Divisional Education Council, "but all of them cautioned that they didn't believe that it was program related and, in general, their retention rates were very high."

Curtis Brown, superintendent for the South Slave Divisional Education Council agreed and said the success of literacy initiatives launched in the South Slave district in 2007 was reflected in high scores on this year's Alberta Achievement Tests by South Slave students.

"We're thrilled with that," Brown said.

Mezi Community School in Whati has the largest graduation cohort to date this year with 12 potential graduates set to cross the stage on June 20.

"Last year we had 10 graduates, which was also a high number," stated Blair Hagman, principal of Mezi Community School, in an e-mail. "We will continue to provide great opportunities and exciting courses for our secondary students to attract students to stay in school and focus on the ultimate goal of graduating and seeking employment or post-secondary studies."

This year the school introduced five new courses and seven new extracurricular programs to engage students and keep them in school, he said.

The largest graduation class in the territory outside of Yellowknife was at Samuel Hearne Secondary School where 33 students walked the stage on June 2. The ceremony was held in the school gymnasium for the first time since 2003 in recognition that the building may not be standing this time next year after it's replaced by the new super school in Inuvik.

This year 213 students are set to graduate from schools outside the capital.

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