December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
It may be a small step for the education system, but it's one giant leap for the Class of 2017.
Now that they've wrapped up their career in the minors at Windsor School -- a 192-student, K-8 facility in St. Vital -- they'll be spending the next four seasons in the big leagues at Glenlawn Collegiate Institute, home to 1,225 students in the last school year.
Glenlawn principal Irene Nordheim said the jump from junior high to high school is one of the biggest and most nerve-wracking in any student's life.
"I think it's a huge deal," said Nordheim, principal for the last five years and herself a graduate of Glenlawn. "They've had eight or nine years in a school where they've worked their way to the top.
"They're not the leaders of the pack now. They have a lot to adjust to. It's still pretty exciting though; it's not all terrifying."
The school has tried to ease the transition by having staff visit the junior high to answer questions, holding an open house and arranging a "scavenger hunt," in which the students explored the collegiate's maze of classrooms in a fun, non-threatening manner.
Along with the sheer size of the school, Nordheim said the Class of 2017 will be facing some fresh academic challenges.
"It's not until you get to Grade 9 that you have to earn credits to graduate and move forward," she said. "You have to earn 30 credits to graduate high school. In the Grade 9 year, they have to earn eight credits.
"It's a different system, a slightly different mindset, but it's a big deal."
With Grade 8 in their rear-view mirror, the new crop of high school students will also have to come to grips with a lot more freedom.
"They have two spares during the year," the principal noted. "The kids who are most successful manage their time, incorporating some studying into their spares."
Each incoming student will also be assigned a single teacher to serve as their "advocate" -- an adult who helps them navigate the minefield that is high school.
"They keep the advocate throughout their high school career and the advocate ends up giving them their diploma at the end," Nordheim said. "It's meant to develop a positive relationship with one specific adult.
"They address any concerns they have and talk to them about goal-setting and review their report cards with them. They're the school parent, so to speak. You have no idea how emotional that is."
In their rookie season in high school, the class will be grouped into so-called dens, which are a lot like the homerooms they had in Windsor.
"They stay within that group for the four core subjects -- math, English, science and social studies," the principal noted. "Instead of four teachers, we make sure they only get two for those core subject. It closes up one of the ways they can fall through the cracks.
"It's creating a school within a school for the Grade 9s."
Glenlawn Collegiate Institute report card
Number of students: 1,225 in 2013, making it one of the biggest high schools in the city
Number of staff: 113
Administrators: Principal Irene Nordheim and three vice-principals
Address: 770 St. Mary's Road, R2M 3N7
Mascot: Arthur the Lion
School Division: Louis Riel
Motto: Striving for Excellence
Vision: The community of Glenlawn provides opportunities for learning, growth and preparation for our future in an environment of responsibility and respect.
School Philosophy: Glenlawn Collegiate believes in providing students with a stimulating, supportive and positive environment in which they can realize their potential as thinking, caring human beings, and in which they can develop academically, socially, aesthetically, physically and emotionally. Students are encouraged to participate in various experiences and open-ended opportunities within which they develop good work habits and skills in critical thinking. In promoting our motto "Striving for Excellence," we will maintain an atmosphere in which individuals feel safe ande valued as members of the school community.
Source: Glenlawn Collegiate Institute
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 D10