Seven years after the Lloydminster Catholic School Division (LCSD) implemented an aggressive plan to foster students’ academic growth, Holy Rosary High School is seeing the results.
“Improvement isn’t a light switch, we really wish it was. We could just turn it on and change everything on a dime,” said LCSD director of education Doug Robinson. “What we have in that plan is rather remarkable in that we’re already exceeding all of the goals that the province has set that we’re supposed to achieve by the year 2020.”
Two of the high school’s major accolades are its graduation rate, which is expected to land between 93 and 95 per cent this year, and its student credit attainment rate, which is one of the strongest in Alberta.
Also of note, Holy Rosary is consistently sending between 65 and 75 per cent of its grads to post-secondary programs. Robertson says he expects to top the 70 per cent mark this year once the school finishes tabulating the data.
“Those are the little indicators. When that many of our kids go on to post-secondary, it’s phenomenal,” he said.
Robertson largely attributes the academic achievements to a change in teaching philosophy around 2008 when the LCSD ushered in its grand plan. Instructors now collaborate on creating teaching programs and implementation strategies that help students thrive in the classroom.
Now Holy Rosary is surpassing many of the academic targets outlined by the Province of Alberta.
“Right now we’re supposed to be focusing on reading,” said Robertson. “Well, we’re there. We’re really working hard to even improve and exceed the provincial targets, but now we’re moving next year into writing and into mathematics ahead of the province as well.”
Robertson also highlighted the success of First Nations students at Holy Rosary, who are graduating at a near 80 per cent clip, almost double the provincial average of 40 per cent.
Furthermore, he says the school hasn’t skipped a beat with English as an additional language (EAL) students, which currently makes up around 17 per cent of Holy Rosary’s student body.
“We were kind of wondering whether or not having that many EAL students, how we were going to change and adapt the system,” Robertson said. “It just shows that the systems we have in place can accommodate that kind of significant growth year over year.”
Going forward, Robertson says LCSD will focus on “enriching” the school experience for students. Existing programs like the performing arts, catholic youth leadership, band and athletics can all serve as catalysts for that and can help motivate and engage students in school, he said.
Nonetheless, Robertson says there is one important intangible that lets him know that the LCSD is headed along the right track.
“Seeing the excitement of kids that are really looking forward to that next major phase of their life, in terms of either getting into a university program or into a trades and a journeyman program or into work placement,” he said.
“Hugely rewarding for our school system too, because that’s what it’s all about - setting these kids up for success.”