Submitted by Samm Carruthers
With the snow piled high, the students seem to be back into the swing of things this semester. Most pupils have got settled in, with some already starting to finish up a few of this semester’s courses. The school this year continues to have a comfortable, safe and productive environment for its wide range of very enthusiastic, very grateful students.
“I’m very excited for the opportunities this new school year will provide. We have a wonderful group of students and many highlights for them,” stated Assistant Principal Shelagh Hagemann. “With the new semester, we have introduced new programs such as the complementary courses we offer on a daily basis. These courses change often and give the students a chance to explore a wide variety of learning opportunities, which is highly encouraged at the Outreach.”
“The approach and environment at Ponoka Outreach is enjoyable and focused,” high school student, Jamie Kramer, commented. “I feel as though this will be a great year, especially with such a wonderful staff and student body.”
“Ponoka Outreach School works with each student individually,” stated student Brooklyne Munkedal,. “It works with whatever your schedule is instead of requiring you to attend at specific times. It’s helped me become a better individual. Even when I’ve made mistakes, they always worked it out with me and accepted me for who I am.”
“The Outreach School is a place where you can be yourself and you can learn to be a better person,” stated Jacob Colyn, high school student. “When I started my education at the Outreach School, I was considered to be a difficult person. Yet, after four years of being at this school, I’ve not only managed to improve my attitude, I’ve managed to make myself a better individual capable of leading a successful life. I’ve almost finished Grade 12 and I’ve loved every minute of my time at the Outreach.”
“The new programming we have going this year is proving to be very successful,” Principal Scott Lewis stated. “We are offering a variety of complementary courses during the last hour of the day. On an alternating schedule, we are offering high-interest courses like Art, stage make-up, graphic design and foods. As well, our school now has an Elder program, which was started by our assistant principal, Mrs. Hagemann. Pupils are enriched with First Nations culture and teachings, in addition to learning some Cree, which they seem to be enjoying. We’re very pleased with the enthusiasm the student body has shown regarding this adjustment in programming.”
Throughout the year the students will have the opportunity to attend multiple events and outings. Finding speakers or presenters to entertain a group of diverse teenagers is never easy, but the staff at Ponoka Outreach seem to pick the right presentations and events every time.
The first of our group outings was a trip to West Country Outreach School in Rimbey to listen to a motivational speaker/musician. We hope to enjoy many of the coming events just as much as this one. Recently, we had a number of presenters come to the school to teach the students about important relevant health and social issues.
Just last week Ponoka Outreach School held its annual winter celebration, which featured a variety of craft activities followed by a minute-to-win It competition. Despite the fact that most of students would never make crafts otherwise, they knew from previous years that this would be a lot of fun, as well as great opportunity to make Christmas gifts for their families. The minute-to-win It competition was totally hilarious. Everyone is hoping we can have another competition soon.
As a new student myself, I’ve been given a different perspective and a fresh, objective view of Ponoka Outreach School, its occupants and the way things work here. Never have I met a more helpful, supportive, encouraging and easy to get along with set of educators. My teachers have made me feel like I am able to achieve the goals I set for myself and receive enough support to actually convince me to try. I’ve never felt more confident about my education. Compared to the other schools I have attended, Ponoka Outreach School is the number one school I would recommend to anyone.
As Mr. Lewis said, “Our hard-working teachers are creating innovative and interesting modules that use Google docs, internet assignments and carefully crafted learning activities that are engaging and interesting. Many students report that they are really ‘into it’ this year and have been at a peak for student engagement. And with a great start, we hope that the students stay just as enthusiastic about their school. With all of the new pupils completely settled in and the old ones totally back into their routine, we’re all happy to have such an eager involvement in getting the most out of this year!”