Pilot project benefits Grade 12s

Grade 12 students now have a chance to dip into several college academic courses

Grade 12 students looking to post-secondary education now have a chance to dip into several college academic courses thanks to a partnership between the Vernon School District and Okanagan College.

In partnership since 2005 with rotating trades courses, the two groups will begin a pilot project in September offering academic courses in cultural anthropology, English and indigenous studies.

Jane Lister, regional dean at the Vernon college campus, outlined the project for trustees at Wednesday’s district board meeting.

“This is a great thing for us, and the school district is paying so that’s good,” she said. “We are seeing a real trend of students only taking four courses a year and taking five years to do their degree as they were finding five courses too much — this provides an opportunity for students to access advanced courses and earn credits, thereby lessening their first-year load.”

There are two dual credit programs offered to high school students: trades, which began in 2005 and is open to Grade 11 and 12 students, and academic, starting this fall for Grade 12 students.

“Trades came about due to OUC being split into OC and UBCO and the availability of OC offering more trades programming,” said Lister. “Local labour market demand for trades was high in 2005 to 2009 and from 2010 onward, we’ve had high demand from the oil patch.”

Lister said the academic dual credit program came from trying to provide more opportunities to high school students.

“We are also hoping the initiative will help raise the transition rate of School District 22 student to post-secondary — this gives them an introduction to post-secondary,” she said. “We are both looking for more ways to meet the needs and career aspirations of students.”

District superintendent Joe Rogers said the academic dual credit courses are a way of giving Grade 12 students the opportunity to earn university-transfer credits and secondary school graduation credits at the same time.

“Jane has been a great partner for us,” he said. “For our kids, this is a ninth course for them, to be taken at night. We get the funding because we are out of funding protection, so there is no loss for us.”

Rogers said the district pays the OC course fee on behalf of the students, although they are responsible for purchasing text books as required.

The Vernon district screens and selects all applicants. Students will receive four secondary school credits and three OC credits for successfully completing the courses.

“They are transferable to all B.C. universities, they introduce students to the rigor of first-year courses and they allow students to be acquainted with college instructors,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes the first semester — I’m having professors knocking on my door to say ‘Why didn’t I get asked?’, but there are some courses that won’t work for this.

“Science is one that won’t work as there is too much lab work and generally you have to have the background of Grade 12 science.”

Anthropology 121 is an introduction to cultural anthropology running September to December and enrolment for this class is now full.

English 153 narrative runs January to April 2016 and will explore a variety of narrative forms, including short story, memoir, poem, song, film and graphic novel.

Indigenous Studies 100 runs September to December, Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

In this course students will become more informed about historical events that shape current indigenous peoples’ relationships with Canadian society, politics, education, economy, social justice and cultural renewal.

“Students will study issues such as mining rights, pipelines, aboriginal programs in schools, Indian bands, missing and murdered indigenous women, etc.,” said Lister.

“Students will become aware that indigenous peoples are very much still here, that languages, cultural practices and responsibilities have been maintained and that indigenous peoples are very diverse with different traditional territories, languages, ways, and relationships with federal and provincial government.”