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2012-04-11 at 16:22

Accessible education

By Leith Dunick,
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University may be the chosen path for many students, but for others it seems like an impossible dream.

Lakehead University and Lakehead Public Schools are partnering to make those dreams a reality. The two institutions on Thursday signed what university president Brian Stevenson termed the historic Achievement Program memorandum of understanding at Sherbrook Public School.

The deal strengthens an existing partnership and lays out a path for students who might not otherwise be able to afford or qualify for post-secondary education.

“It’s the first step I think in trying to eliminate the barriers to higher education that a lot of children have and the first thing we have to do is make them understand that it’s achievable, that the university is theirs and to help them get there by any means we have to do,” Stevenson said.

The goal of the program is to raise $10 million over the next 10 years, while changing attitudes and expectations of both students and their parents, specifically targeting First Nations, Metis, Inuit and low-income families.

Students in grades 4 through 12 can earn money through the program to put toward tuition at Lakehead University, simply by taking part in a variety of yearly activities, ranging from academic camps to arts, science and outdoor programming.

Lakehead Public Schools director of education Cathy Siemieniuk said the entire community should benefit from the heightened partnership.

“Because as students see hope and optimism in their future and achieve their goals, it can benefit not only their lives, but the lives of everyone around them,” she said.

“This formalizes the partnership that we have. So students from our system will be able to take part in this program in a formal way. We have a responsibility to identify those students, and certainly the university is working with us to ensure that the achievement fund is available to them as they enter university into the future.”

Students will be encouraged to make long-term personal connections with the university as they continue through elementary and high school. Tuition credits are earned through completing their current activity year, participating in designated extracurricular activities and showing leadership or academic accomplishment.

“You have to work hard,” Stevenson said, noting this isn’t a free ride.

The program also includes an adult section for older students returning to the classroom, providing financial assistance for qualified candidates to cover things like books, transportation and child care. This part of the program will be funded solely through donations.

At least one student is excited about the possibilities the program might offer.

“I participate in the reading program at Sherbrooke School and the program was great. I had fun. When I grow up I plan to go to Lakehead University to learn about the law. I am really looking forward to more school,” Ryan Kejick told the audience on hand for the announcement.


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ring of fire dude says:
This ought to get the "Locals" whining again .
4/11/2012 5:14:06 PM
countrychick says:
Yeah they may have money for secondary education but the school board is NOT TEACHING kids what is REALLY important like MATH SCIENCE SPELLING (PROPERLY) GRAMMER CRUSIVE WRITING READING.... I really wish the board would quite being social services and do what they are paid to do TEACH!!!!!!!!!!!!
4/11/2012 5:46:31 PM
username says:
This post is beyond ironic.
4/12/2012 1:43:32 AM
vimeo says:
I like you're point, but the problem goes deeper. Times have changed over the years. Students have more rights and power than ever at an age where most are not mature enough to understand what they have.

It's pretty hard to control a classroom when phones are tolerated and social behaviours taught at home carry into the classroom. You're right in that this leads to a substandard level of education entering university.
It doesn't stop there though. Universities have lowered their standards (not in entry requirements) by adapting grading levels to match the majority of students. While the marks are the same as in the past, the quality of knowledge isn't.
I've read papers from university grads who use "texting" grammar and spelling in a professional document. It does go all the way back to the elementary level. But, it's the parents that need to encourage & enforce a proper social behaviour to allow the teachers to do what they were hired for.
No, I'm not a teacher.
4/12/2012 8:18:28 AM
ComradeLeninHiawathaZwig says:
Speaking of needing to learn grammar... Did they teach you about 'irony' in school?
4/12/2012 9:57:03 AM
TBDR says:
4/12/2012 11:24:53 AM
Steven says:
Two points:

1) I agree with helping deserving students (ie. good enough marks/application to get in on their own merits) who can't afford university.

However, lowering the bar for those students who couldn't otherwise get into anywhere other than a minimum wage job. Its great to have opportunity for everyone and show everyone hope and a rosy future, but lets be honest: the vast majority of people who wouldn't otherwise get into lakehead will NEVER go anywhere with the degree they may be able to get than without.

They are lower achievers, and guess what: the world needs ditch diggers.
4/11/2012 7:14:41 PM
blue_eyes says:
this is so awesome!!
4/11/2012 11:09:30 PM
metisman says:
Yes the world needs ditch diggers, plumbers and millwrights...however this is not directed to those students....the kids that are skilled with their hands will become future tradespeople....what LU is trying to do is to groom kids that are future community leaders and having them not worry so much about how to pay for it...rather to show them that through HARD WORK...many things can be attained...kinda has an old school ring to it...
4/12/2012 9:51:39 AM
brandnewlow says:
where was this when i was growing up..
4/12/2012 11:42:09 AM
tbaykatrina says:
I hope the same can be done at the college level as well. If our job market shows anything is that we need more tradespeople, and not just engineers.
4/12/2012 11:46:46 AM
Sabado says:

Thank you for proving irony. You say that the schools should be teaching how to spell, and then you misspell GRAMMAR and CURSIVE.
4/12/2012 12:14:27 PM
Sabado says:
Sorry. I also forgot that you misspelled QUIT
4/12/2012 4:58:02 PM
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