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Student successes celebrated
Completion ceremony at Aurora College highlights alternative learning options

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012

As the conventional school year draws to a close, an unconventional completion ceremony was held this week to celebrate accomplishments by students over the last year.

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Virginia Kotokak walks through the crowd during the beginning of Monday's completion ceremony in the foyer at Aurora College. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

The Aurora College Learning Centre held its completion ceremony this past Monday in the foyer at Aurora College.

"While it may not be a full graduation as such, because they're lifelong learners, it's important to recognize them reaching their milestones," said Donna-Lynn Baskin, instructor of English, computers and college preparation courses with the centre.

"Everyone is moving at a different pace through a different, customized course of studies depending on what their direction is," she said. "So, there's no way to have a 'standard' graduation, yet everybody who has made it to this point has achieved goals that they established at the beginning of the year."

More than 35 students were recognized at the event, and a crowd of more than 50 people filled the space to cheer on their loved ones and recognize the effort that they have put into their studies this year.

"It's to celebrate the fact that students have put in a year of hard work," said Linda Flynn, senior instructor at the Learning Centre. "We have everyone here. We feel that if you have put in a full year of school, even if you need another one you should be acknowledged," said Flynn.

Speakers at Monday's ceremony also acknowledged Flynn, who will be leaving the centre this summer, for her 12 years of service to alternative learning styles in Inuvik. However, Flynn made it clear this was a day for her students, and not herself.

"Every year it's wonderful. It's good to see the students' accomplishments and to acknowledge that," she said. "This is a day for the students."

Most of the students at the Learning Centre aim to upgrade their classes to get into a post-secondary program, said Flynn. Likewise, trades access students are mostly looking to get the qualifications that they need to secure an apprenticeship in their chosen trade.

The Learning Centre is geared toward students who, for whatever reason, were unable to complete high school through conventional means. There are also a number of students using the facility who have completed high school but need to upgrade certain classes in order to gain entrance into their desired post-secondary program.

Learning Centre features specialized services like access programs and the Caribou Outreach Centre. The outreach centre focuses on mature students who aren't quite ready to return to a classroom setting, said Baskin. English as a Second Language (ESL) and professional development courses are popular at the centre, and the timetable is more flexible than standard Learning Centre Programming, she said. Access programs such as the teacher education program and social work program are geared toward students focused on pursuing certain fields.

"All of these programs specialize their course structure towards fulfilling the entrance requirements for specific programs," said Baskin.

Centres like the Aurora College Learning Centre and the Sunchild E-Learning program through the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation allow students to pursue their education through an alternative learning style while staying close to home, said Baskin, which is important because many students who use the centre also care for their families.

"We're very fortunate to have, in a small community like this, that opportunity. In most places, students would either have to leave their home communities or work by distance education," she said.

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