Recognition of a job well done is an important part of a student’s learning experience.
Each year Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS) recognizes its students for their efforts in the last school year; this year was no different except that organizers invited parents to be a part of the celebrations, explained principal Ian Rawlinson. It is an ever-changing event and parents told him they enjoyed being able celebrate their children’s accomplishments.
The challenge educators face is being able to adjust to the diverse needs of students. There was one award Rawlinson feels was a testament to last year’s graduates.
“I’m really impressed with the number of Rutherford winners,” he said.
The Alexander Rutherford Scholarship can be up to $2,500 and goes to students with a minimum combined average based on a five-course schedule.
They must also plan or be enrolled in post-secondary education. PCHS had more than 30.
“Besides the money what it does for these kids is it gives them a leg up,” said Rawlinson.
Another area where students performed well was in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS). Students from grades 9 to 12 received awards in building centre, fabrication, and food studies. Some were awarded money and a certificate, and others received tools that will help them with their work.
Assistant principal Ron Rarick said his job is to maintain student programs and encourage students not to give up on their goals. “I’m proud of how hard the kids work…and the opportunity they create for themselves.”
He feels meeting the needs of students is something all the teachers at PCHS strive for because it is a different experience for them.
“We have students working 40-to-50 hour work weeks and a job,” stated Rawlinson. “They’re inundated with challenges.”
He believes the world is changing and it is easy to forget that “kids are a part of that.”
Rarick feels it is important to give parents credit for the support they give their children as well and the school intends to continue with this format.
Among the many students awarded was graduate Jason Rausch. Not only did he achieve honours but he was also awarded the Jean Martin Award in mathematics and athletics. The $1,000 award is presented to a graduate combines excellence in Math 30 Pure, Math 31 and athletics. Rausch will use the money to pay for school next semester.
He is at Red Deer College to pursue engineering and plans to study to be a petroleum engineer at the University of Alberta.
“It was good to know that I was being recognized for an award, especially in math and sports…math is my thing,” he stated.
He credits his teachers for helping him in his studies. “If I missed a test I could always make it up.”
He looks forward to adding the certificate to his resume as well.
Jessica Sperber, who is now studying at Grant MacEwan University to be a dental hygienist, was awarded honours; the Bower Dental Centre $200 award for entering a dental field; the Ladies Auxiliary Royal Canadian Legion Award, presented to a student pursuing post-secondary education who is related to a veteran or Mountie; the Government of Alberta High School Citizenship Award for contributions to the school climate; and the Ernie Plested Memorial Scholarship of $500 to a student involved in high school rodeo or 4-H in the last two years.
She also credits her teachers and how they work with students. “They were always supportive and ready to help.”
Sperber believes the new layout at the high school made learning a better experience, which is one of the reasons she chose Grant MacEwan. It was a comfortable learning environment, she explained.
Another award winner was one of last year’s valedictorians, Taylor Kim. He was unable to attend but earned five awards including the Governor General’s Award for the highest academic average and the Glencoe Resources Ltd. Scholarship; a $6,500 scholarship paid over the course of four years.
Rawlinson was proud for Kim and said it was hard work that brought the student where he is today. He credits all the students at PCHS for their hard work.
“All the students…no matter what, they worked really hard,” he stated.