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Tulita students reach for the top
School program motivates pupils to do better

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 8, 2013

A new program at Chief Albert Wright School in Tulita helped boost students' grades and their motivation this year, say teachers.

"It was pretty incredible to see," said Sarah Kelly, English and social studies teacher. "I'm seeing tangible results."

The program is titled the Principal's List, the brainchild of teachers who gathered at the beginning of the school year to discuss ways to improve student performance. They decided to create their own version of an honour roll.

"We were sad that the high marks in many of our classes were in the low 50s," she said. "We thought this year, we wanted to tackle that notion."

Kristianna Andrew, Grade 11, made the Principal's List in almost all of her subjects this year. She said while making the list was a bonus, getting good grades was more of a personal goal.

"It wasn't really about the list for me," she said. "I just wanted my grades to be up."

Andrew said she knows maintaining her grades is the first step in achieving her goal of becoming a teacher.

"I want to go to college first, then university when I'm done college," she said.

The list celebrates students who achieve 65 per cent or higher in any course, Kelly said. Students are awarded with a certificate and a $10 iTunes card, as well as a ceremony recognizing their achievements.

"Every student got public acknowledgment," she said.

That acknowledgment is inspiring students to perform better in the classroom and during exams, Kelly said.

While one or two students passed last year's Social Studies 20 class, a mandatory requirement for graduation, this year 14 students passed, Kelly said.

"I have students that were averaging 20 per cent in my course and now they're getting 60s," she said.

Attendance is also improving. Typically attendance drops after late spring, but the program is motivating students to stay in school right up until the end of the school year.

"We had a significant amount of high school students who were attending right up until exams," Kelly said.

Kelly said while the goal is to inspire students to strive for 65 per cent, the program isn't just about grades. Students who demonstrate they tried their best are also celebrated.

"I really think we're supporting an environment that 65 and above is the standard," she said. "But, if you stay for after-school help and you get 55 per cent, we're proud of that, too."

Some teachers regularly donated their time after hours throughout the school year to help students who needed help with projects or

homework, Kelly said.

"I'd say that there are at least three teachers that are here no matter what if students need assistance," Kelly said. "There are always teachers here for help."

As a result, more than 25 students from Grade 8 to Grade 12 reached their 65 per cent goal.

"Next year, we're going to start it at least 70 per cent and keep it going," she said.

"One thing that lets me know it's making a difference, I've noticed on at least a few student lockers, they have their certificate taped inside."

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