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Students get head start on high school

Summer school used to be just for students who had fallen behind. Now it’s increasingly for those who want to get ahead. “It’s actually a phenomenal trend here in St. Albert,” said Randy Kozak, summer school principal at St.

Summer school used to be just for students who had fallen behind. Now it’s increasingly for those who want to get ahead.

“It’s actually a phenomenal trend here in St. Albert,” said Randy Kozak, summer school principal at St. Albert’s Paul Kane High School.

Enrolment in that school’s summer program is around 450, more than a third of the student count the school attracts during the year, Kozak said.

At the secondary level, summer school begins July 5 and ends July 30. Students attend every weekday from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., studying just one subject at a time. They learn as much in that particular course in one day as they would in a whole week during the school year, Kozak said.

Close to 300 of the students in Paul Kane’s summer school are fresh Grade 9 graduates looking to get a head start on high school, Kozak said.

“This whole trend of getting ahead, like the pre-kindergarten, now you have pre-high school where they’re getting these courses out of the way so they can take more options,” he said.

It’s not for every student. They need to do at least an hour of homework every day to keep up, he said.

Of course, there are some students who are retaking a course in the hope of improving their mark.

“I ask the students if they’re forced to come here. Sometimes you can tell on their face,” Kozak said. “Others, they want to be here.”

The Catholic division offers traditional classroom-style summer school at St. Albert Catholic High School and also online learning through its St. Gabriel’s iLearn centre.

The system has 120 students enrolled in the school setting and more than 300 learning online, said summer school principal Cara Mazur.

Physical education and religion are popular choices among all students.

Summer learning is popular for students in the International Baccalaureate program, because it’s the only way they can accomplish all the requirements, Mazur said. It’s also favoured by high-level athletes and musicians.

“People are just looking for alternative ways to pursue their schooling,” Mazur said.

Summer school is working out well for Paul Kane student Matt Post, 17. He decided to complete the required career and life management course prior to entering Grade 12 in September. The course can be completed within two weeks in summer school. Post has friends in the school and he likes the idea of getting his course done in a compressed time.

“It’s a lot tougher coming to school when it’s nice out,” he admitted. “You kind of daze off a bit but you’re here for a reason … might as well get it done.”

Stephanie Jamieson, 16, who normally attends Sturgeon Composite, is taking Social 30 at Paul Kane’s summer school because a number of students she knows recommended the teacher.

Her friends wondered why she wanted to waste her summer in school, but she’s doing fine with it.

“If it was a whole day that would kind of suck but it’s a half day,” she said. “It’s not bad.