It took Jacob Boucher two tries but he finally graduated from high school.
The 26-year-old dropped out of high school when he was 17-years-old. Pressure from being separated from his family kept him away from his studies for a number of years. He decided to enroll in the high school program at Fort William First Nation community centre.
The Keewaytinook Internet High School offers programing for Grades 9 to Grade 12. The community centre also offers a general educational development program.
Boucher said it was difficult coming back to school after being away for so long.
“It took me six years to come back and graduate,” he said. “Now that I accomplished that I feel pretty awesome. I just wanted to do it. I’m sick of not working or having a silly job. I feel proud of myself.”
Boucher along with more than 50 other students celebrated their graduation at the Fort William First Nation community centre on Monday.
He said he could learn at his ownpace and enjoyed being in a quiet space.
“It was an easy atmosphere to learn,” he said. “I can’t wait to start school in September. I’m going to go to Lakehead University.”
Shieanne Solomon also celebrated her graduation. The 22-year-old mother of two said it was difficult at times as she balanced being a student and a mother. Sometimes she wasn’t able to come to school or the teacher would help to watch the two children.
“I’m happy now that it is finally over and I’m going on to college in September,” she said. “I didn’t take (high school) seriously when I was younger. I later realized how important it was for getting jobs and setting an example for my kids. It was a good experience. They made it fun to come to school.”
She said she’s excited for her parents to see her graduate.
Teacher Cathy Rodger said Keewaytinook and the GED program allows students to stay within their own community to complete high school instead of traveling elsewhere. Rodger said they also offer support for students who have children.
“This (graduation) is incredibly important,” she said. “We have had a number of opportunities for jobs here in our own community and a lot of those jobs you need your high school. The opportunity to go to post-secondary education whether it is here at Confederation College or Lakehead University, they need to get this. In seven years we’ve had 50 people graduate.”
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