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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

PONOKA NEWS Page 3

PCHS designs new program By Amelia Naismith An educational program designed to encourage schools to redevelop the way they support student learning has been extended for another three years. The High School Flexibility Project, which will be renamed Moving Forward with High School Redesign for the upcoming extension, was instituted by the Government of Alberta three years ago. The program allows schools to take apart and reconstruct their timetables by taking out the Carnegie Unit. The Carnegie Unit is a unit of measurement that stipulates how much time a student must sit in the classroom in front of a teacher, it’s also tied to credits and the funding school’s receive. With the program schools can remove the Carnegie unit without having their funding reduced. “That seems easy. You can say I don’t care how many hours your child is in a seat, what you have to do is demonstrate the competencies of the following course. That makes perfect sense to us. But the funding people, that’s not exactly a really exciting thing because that’s how they function. If you don’t have credits you don’t get funding,” explained assistant superintendant Gerry Varty. The 15 Albertan schools that participated in the first round of the program were guaranteed funding for the

Rebecca Wesner was one of two junior high Leaders of Tomorrow nominees winners. Photo by Amelia Naismith

Smiles dominate ceremony

three years based on their average. “These schools, some of them did some really remarkable things. They completely broke up their timetable,” said Varty. Some schools introduced variable tutoring times and grouped students with groups of teachers. Four schools within the Wolf Creek School Division are in preliminary discussions and are hoping to partake in the extended leg of the program; Bentley School, Lacombe Composite High School, Alix MAC School and Ponoka Composite High School. The four schools had to apply with proposals to Varty, who made improving suggestions, and they were then submitted to Alberta Education. “It has to be stuff you can’t do know . . . Don’t phone me and say I want to keep doing what I’ve already been doing, come up with something that’s worth taking on,” said Varty. Ian Rawlinson, principal of the newly named Ponoka Secondary Campus, formerly Ponoka Composite High School, says the school has many philosophies and projects it would like to tie to the program. “Basically, what it enables us to do or what we could look at doing here, is trying to reconstruct the school so students can learn at their own pace,” explained Rawlinson. Students are bound by 125 hours of instruction time, although some learn at a faster pace. The school offers a Personal Academic Comprehensive Education (PACE) program. “That would be the vehicle for doing that,” said Rawlinson. PACE covers the school’s entire academic curriculum and with the two programs tied together Rawlinson says teachers can “become facilitators of learning instead of the keepers of knowledge. They can work with the students.” Rawlinson believes PACE and the high school redesign will help intervention programs and at-risk students complete high school. The flexibility of the program would allow the students weeks or months to complete a course and ready themselves for the defining final exam. “It enables the students to achieve more success as opposed to, ‘thanks for coming out, you failed’,” said Rawlinson. Rawlinson said when the inside of the school was redesigned it was done with flexibility in mind. “It’s torn down the walls in many areas and created different learning environments.” On May 1 schools will attend a meeting in Calgary to discuss the details of the project, how chosen schools will be funded and the schools’ responsibilities to the project. In the middle of May the schools participating in the project will be revealed. “I think they’re being fairly careful of who they choose because it can change the way your school operates.” Varty updated school trustees on the program at their April 16 meeting. He ended his presentation with a question for the board: if completely new schools could be built for students would they build the ones they have now. He wouldn’t.

Continued from page 2 The senior winners were Taylor Baron and Paige Raugust. Raugust was surprised she was nominated because of the other nominees in her category. She started volunteering her time as a young girl in church and because of her passion for giving, never stopped. “It lets you appreciate other people, you learn to understand other people.” “A smile can change the world,” she added. Raugust wasn’t the only one at the ceremony who knows the power of the smile. “Love watching the A household name youth. I like to watch the expressions on their 40 years. faces,” said program chairperson Leanne Brusegard. “It’s amazing. I reSPECIALIZING IN: ally think they need to be encouraged so they carry • septic tanks on,” she added.

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Ponoka News, April 24, 2013  

April 24, 2013 edition of the Ponoka News

Ponoka News, April 24, 2013  

April 24, 2013 edition of the Ponoka News