Graduating class at D.P. Todd speaks up on education

School District No. 57 asked the students.

The overarching question, posed Wednesday in the D.P. Todd Secondary School gymnasium to the school’s graduating class, was: “What do you need from us in order to be successful?” The students then had the chance to give their feedback, which was collected by the teachers, administrators and district staff present.

And there was no shortage of feedback.

Students gathered in small groups around the outside edge of the gym and wrote their ideas and opinions on large sheets of paper affixed to the walls. Some of what they jotted down included: Give us something engaging so we don’t want to look at our phones; Teach valuable life skills – taxes, budget skills, planning for the future (i.e.: housing, independence); More support in general with school work; Starting later and ending later; Grades should be doing stuff outside of school, considering life is outside of school; Kids just want to feel safe, emotionally. Not everyone’s life is awesome.

In an interview afterward, Dylan Zummack said he hopes the session sparks changes for D.P. Todd’s younger grades and for future students. He also said he’d like to see a higher level of understanding and accommodation for students who are working jobs while attending school, trying to save money for post-secondary education.

“Especially in our Grade 12 year, it is a mad dash to get money,” said Zummack, who is interested in studying Sciences at the post-secondary level. “Tuition for universities is insanely high and some of us are working two, three jobs along with trying to do school.”

Cianna Wetterlind, meanwhile, liked the concept of student engagement but said the conversations need to start with younger students, not just with those who are on their way out of the system. Wetterlind, who has applied to the University of Northern British Columbia, added that she’d appreciate more certainty around specific elements of the new provincial assessments.

Wednesday’s student engagement session was the first of its kind. Superintendent Rod Allen was present, as were Assistant Superintendents Cindy Heitman and Nevio Rossi and Acting Assistant Superintendent Lee Karpenko.