WEYBURN - Any thoughts that various levels of academic and extra curricular achievements were waning in southeast Saskatchewan public schools were put to rest on October 12 when board members representing the South East Cornerstone Public School Division tuned themselves in to a monitoring report on the division’s system goal that calls for students to reach for achievement at high levels.
Director of Education Keith Keating opened the presentation with several fact-driven numbers, noting the development of the whole child that went beyond the classrooms since it also strived for high participation and excellence levels in athletics, student leadership, fine arts, theatre, music and debate among other things.
The presentation focused on student achievements from the 2021-22 school year where many events were modified due to COVID-related restrictions.
“Even though challenges existed, students, staff and school communities rose above the challenges and continued to achieve at high levels,” said Keating.
Many of the stories of higher achievement had been shared throughout the academic year, on paper, media attention and other evidentiary processes.
Two students from Radville School were present at the meeting to describe to the board members their particular added interests.
Keating introduced Addisen Laird, a Grade 10 student who, at age 14, was a published author thanks to her passions for writing and assistance from the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild (SWG). She shared examples of how she approached her writing regimes and read an excerpt from her manuscript entitled, “Letting Go.”
She thanked a Radville educator for the introduction to the SWG and how the work of revision and editing was made easier with their expert assistance.
“My editor was a woman named Peggy and due to no in-person presentations due to COVID, I wasn’t able to present my story in Saskatoon at a gathering and I did not qualify for a trip to Ottawa,” she said with a laugh, still remembering her excitement and almost disbelief in her good fortune at being a published author at this early stage in her writing career.
Jacey Zadorozniak, a Grade 11 student in Radville, explained how she had gained a seat at the Saskatchewan Youth Council where issues of provincial importance that relate to young people come to the forefront.
She said her first application to join the council had been rejected and she noted with a smile and chuckle that she did not accept rejection lightly, so she persevered and submitted a nomination a second time, and was successful.
“I don’t like to fail,” she said with a laugh. Thus, the requirement of filling out all the nomination forms was repeated.
The council meets once a month, usually through virtual communications and then meet face-to-face in May. Their sessions and objectives will end up with a personal session with Education Minister Dustin Duncan when they will be given the opportunity to present him with provincial student concerns and ambitions.
Radville teacher Stephanie Jensen joined the two students.
During the data-driven portion of the presentation, Keating pointed to a variety of results that proved Cornerstone students and staff members were generally working at high levels of achievement.
This was evidenced by a higher than average three-year high school graduation rate of 86.6 per cent compared with the provincial average of 75.6 per cent and a five-year graduation rate of 95 per cent in the Cornerstone sector.
Extra efforts and successes were also outlined in such areas of study as language arts, cosmetology, and various athletic endeavours along with overall above average results in traditional subject areas.
It was also noted that a new reading and comprehension data gathering system known as Stars was just introduced last year at SECPSD, and will result in some additional data that will be analyzed.