Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 26, 2000
Ascension High helps students move on to post-secondary study
By LELLA BLUMER
Special to the WCR
A new program for returning high school students is an attempt to bridge the gap between secondary and post-secondary education in Edmonton.
Ascension High will give fourth year Catholic high school students the chance to complete their diploma requirements, upgrade their marks, and take introductory university courses at the same time.
Ken Lesniak, director of lifelong learning for Edmonton Catholic Schools, says Ascension High builds on what the district learned from its three-year High Time pilot project.
"We listened to our students, modified the program, and now we're ready to go with the new format."
With more than 40 per cent of students taking at least one extra year to complete high school, school districts across Alberta are looking at innovative and flexible ways to deliver education.
"We know the 'one-size-fits-all' approach to education does not work," says Ascension High principal Michael Carby.
"Our students are individuals . . . and our program's goal is to treat students as individual and diverse."
Superintendent Dale Ripley says that approach is part of the district's commitment to recognize the unique gifts and needs of each student, and "give them greater insight into the gifts God has given them."
Housed in the St. Peter Adult Education Centre near the University of Alberta, Ascension High will offer students the choice of on-line courses, classroom instruction, independent study or seminar courses. Carby says he expects up to 400 students to be registered by the fall.
Most will be upgrading their marks or taking one or two courses to graduate, he adds. But because of Edmonton Catholic's partnership with Athabasca University and Grant MacEwan College, the students could then move on to courses offered by either institution, without having to change locations or wait until the next fall to register.
For students who might not have considered post-secondary education, Ripley says, the program offers a chance to experience it in a comfortable, familiar environment.
Athabasca University President Dominique Abrioux says it's the first time the university has been involved in a project that fits so well with its own mandate.
Other projects in the past have focused on more advanced students who had room to take additional courses, Abrioux says.
Students who take independent study courses "are learning the skills they need to be successful in university . . . and in the world, because responsibility is increasingly being pushed on to the learner," he says.
The three-way partnership grew out of meetings among the heads of Edmonton's major educational institutions, Ripley says. The group meets regularly to talk about making the transition from secondary to post-secondary education easier.
The teaching staff at Ascension High has been hand picked because of their experience and belief in the value of alternative delivery methods, Carby says.
"We realize that not all students will come into the program with clear goals. Our career counsellors can help the students determine what educational choices they have."
Lesniak says all courses offered by Ascension High fit "within the faith dimension" of a Catholic school district.
Carby points out a chaplain has been hired to serve Ascension High students.
Trustee Ron Zapisocki says the program fits in perfectly with the board's vision. "Our mission is to serve the educational needs of Catholics, and this is another step in that process."