School’s In For Summer

It’s late July, and the Learning Commons at Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School (BCI) is the usual hub of activity. That’s because classes are in session, and students are using the time to get caught up, get ahead, or change to a different path. It’s summertime in Grand Erie, and the learning continues.

“Instead of completing a course in five months, I like that summer school gives me the option to stay focused on one course for one month in this more intensive format,” says Rahul Vivekananthan (far right in photo above). “To be honest, I expected it was going to be easy, but it’s been a good challenge.”

Summer school is open to students in Grades 6 through 12, and offers a condensed schedule to accelerate achievement. The reasons students have for choosing summer school are as varied as their individual goals.

“My plans changed significantly when I had a child a year ago, and suddenly it became very important to better myself and increase my options,” explains Rachael Murphy-Westwater (fourth from left in photo above), who says she hadn’t given post-secondary education much thought until that life event changed the course she was on. Since the arrival of her son Jack, she now plans to attend university, and is upgrading her College Grade 12 English credit by completing the Grade 12 University course in summer school. “I’d like to pursue a general science degree, which will keep my options open, and allow me to build a positive future for my son and myself.”

Some students are looking to lighten their course load during the school year, or are getting caught up by taking a course they missed. For Thomas Escobar, a serial summer school student, it’s all about creating balance.

“By taking summer school, I’ll have a spare next year, which I think will really help me focus on my studies,” says Escobar, who writes his exam today to complete his Grade 11 Math credit. “Next year I’ll probably take Grade 12 English or Data Management during the summer.”

Photo of students at summer schoolThe number of students registering for summer school courses represents an upward trend, both for online courses as well as in-class options. This year, approximately 1,300 students are completing courses online, and about 550 are in the classroom. Courses are offered at BCI and Hagersville Secondary School. With approximately 90 per cent of students successfully completing the courses they signed up for, the summer school program boasts well for achievement.

“The curriculum pieces are covered, and teachers work hard to ensure that the credits are authentic and maintain integrity, so by the end, students are well prepared to move ahead,” says Principal Rob Malcolm, who oversees the summer school and eLearning programs. “We’ve also been able to offer new and different programs beyond the core courses, as well as dual-credit courses and co-op options, so that’s all helped the success rates and student engagement.”

Summer school ties into Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan goals through the Achievement indicator, which sets high expectations for students and staff, and works towards increasing student understanding of effective learning strategies.

“The trend is changing,” says Malcolm. “We’re seeing more students who are reaching ahead and working to improve grades in summer school vs. those who are catching-up.”

Summer school 2019 began July 2 and wraps-up tomorrow (July 26).