Record number of PACI graduates headed to university

Matt Gardner
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A higher-than-ever proportion of the Prince Albert College Institute (PACI) graduating class will be heading to university this year.

Prince Albert Daily Herald

Vice-principal Graham McGregor noted that six of the 22 students graduating from PACI this year will be moving on to university-level post-secondary programs -- a figure representing approximately 27 per cent of the class of 2014.

“To have that many going on to that high an academic course is something that we haven’t seen before,” McGregor said.

Meanwhile, 15 students, or 68 per cent of the graduating class, are enrolling in other forms of post-secondary programs such as college or training courses for specialized disciplines such as the trades.

McGregor indicated that promoting post-secondary education among graduates has been a major focus of PACI in recent years.

“Within Saskatchewan education and Sask. Rivers School Division, there’s a large emphasis on graduation rates, which is obviously very important,” he said.

“But we hold a lot of value with students carrying on to post-secondary education, realizing that there’s a lot to be gained from taking some sort of post-secondary courses towards whatever field of interest that they have.”

The class of 2014 represents the ninth graduating class at PACI since it regained high school status, having reverted to a junior high school for the previous three decades.

Graduating classes increased for part of that nine-year-period, but had remained fairly stable at around 22 to 25 graduates for the last five or six years, with varying degrees of students going on to post-secondary.

“This just seemed to be an extraordinary year in that there were six of the 22 going to university and plus a fairly good chunk of the total number going on to any post-secondary,” McGregor said.

The vice-principal attributed this year’s record statistics to a number of factors.

Chief among these were the efforts of the students themselves, as well as strong support from staff members at the school.

“It’s just a strong academic group,” McGregor said. “They’re very motivated. They’ve worked incredibly hard.

“A lot of those kids that are going on to the university level were our kids for four full years. So they came here in Grade 9, they worked hard for four years and now they’re moving on from Grade 12.”

To have that many going on to that high an academic course is something that we haven’t seen before. Graham McGregor

Where staff members were concerned, McGregor singled out transitions mentor Jim Woodcock, who came on board this year to help students transition from high school life to their post-secondary careers.

Among Woodcock’s responsibilities were assisting students in making connections with the post-secondary institutions of their choice, discussing entrance requirements and helping out with scholarship applications.

“We had one student who ended up with a $9,000 scholarship for school with some assistance from Jim (and) obviously, some hard work on her part as well,” McGregor said.

Offering crucial support to Woodcock throughout was Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division career development coach Patricia Yeske.

“She was kind of giving guidance to Jim and Jim was kind of the guy on the front lines that was working with the students one-on-one to help them with their placements … applications and that sort of thing,” McGregor said.

While the school’s efforts to promote post-secondary education displayed greater co-ordination, the PACI graduates in question will be headed down a wide array of career paths.

McGregor noted the prestigious nature of many of the programs students will be enrolled in.

“We have one young lady … going to the Emily Carr Art Institute in Vancouver, which is a really difficult school to get into,” he said. “She had to apply and qualify with her artwork and portfolio in order to be accepted to that one, so very high-end as far as that’s concerned.

“We have other students who are going into kinesiology (at the) U of R -- I’m just looking down the list here -- two young ladies going into nursing at the U of S. So it’s a wide range of different interests and abilities with regard to what they're going towards.”

Organizations: Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division, Emily Carr Art Institute

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Vancouver

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