Editorial: Get on the right track
It was surprising to hear recently that Gulf Islands Secondary School has a lower-than-average graduation rate among B.C. high schools.
Accomplishments of individual students or certain GISS programs tend to give the impression that the institution or all of its students are thriving, when that is clearly not the case.
Incoming schools superintendent Scott Benwell has rightly highlighted graduation rates as an area of improvement he would like the district to work on. The reported rate of about 60 per cent — representing the percentage of students who enter Grade 8 and graduate within six years — is much lower than the B.C. average of 85 per cent. Factoring in the impact of international students who may not complete Grade 12 requirements still leaves us far below the average.
Perhaps one way to increase the graduation rate is to build on an area of strength in School District 64, which is its trades training programs.
Just as the overall graduation rate has been flagged, the school district has coincidentally received one of only seven awards from across B.C. for the number of students it had registered in Industry Training Authority programs, which was 13, or 10 per cent of the graduating class. Through another count, it had the second highest number of students introduced to the trades through various activities. The school and participants in the program — including workplace representatives who help train the students — were honoured at a gala event last week.
These days the demand for skilled workers in B.C. is high, so that a young person who has completed an apprenticeship is all but guaranteed a rewarding job that also pays well. They also graduate with a high school diploma.
GISS has been a leader in encouraging exposure to the trades for students who may not otherwise know they have an aptitude or desire to work with their hands in addition to their minds. It’s an accomplishment to be touted and nurtured, and one that will hopefully help increase the school’s graduation rate at the same time.