One by one they make impassioned and very personal pleas in front of the Calgary Board of Education trustees. At a meeting on Tuesday, the handful of current and former students of Chinook Learning Services made a desperate attempt to keep their program going.
Student Sean McIntosh said his future plans will be derailed if he can’t continue to get his high school credits towards a diploma. He spoke directly to the CBE members.
“I don’t think you understand the gravity of what you’re doing here. You’re destroying 500 individual lives and I don’t understand how anybody can be OK with that,” McIntosh said.
“Please don’t close my school.”
The students are being taught at the aging Viscount Bennett Centre. CBE officials said the building is too expensive to repair and renovate so a portion of the programming is being cancelled. Students over the age of 20 will be forced to find other avenues to get their high school diploma.
“Chinook has given me the opportunity to complete high school because I didn’t want to be an 18-year-old in Grade 10 — that would be humiliating and this has given me a safe space to learn and excel,” Chinook student Lindsay Fortin said.
CBE chair, Trina Hurdman, said a decision has already been made.
“The circumstance with the building are out of our control and right now, we don’t see any other options,” Hurdman said.
Chinook Learning Services can only accommodate students under the age 20. They will continue to be taught in classrooms at other area high schools. The options left to mature students come this September are not reasonable, according to some students. They feel online courses don’t work as well, and high school credits taken at most post-secondary institutions aren’t transferable.
“I can go to SAIT and get equivalency but that only applies to those institutions. I can’t take that anywhere else,” McIntosh said.
Students are not giving up and have initiated an online petition to garner more support.