New Pond Inlet school keeps students interested
Nasivvik School, which officially opened in Pond Inlet last week, is aimed at encouraging students to stay in school until they graduate.
POND INLET — Residents of Pond Inlet huddled together in the cold evening air this week to watch the flags of Canada and Nunavut unfurl above their new high school.
But the new $8.5 million school they had come to examine and celebrate is expected to be more than just a new place of study — it’s expected to keep more Pond Inlet teenagers in the classroom.
Nasivvik High School boasts a bevy of special features that are expected to make learning more fun, easier, or more relevant to students.
The school has a mechanics workshop, a wood-working and metal-work facility, a kitchen and sewing area, a fully-equipped science and computer lab, and a daycare centre with parenting instruction for students with children.
The new facilities, sharply contrast with the previous high school, Takijualuk. Last June, officials condemned the school after a fuel leak was discovered below the building.
The leak was just one in a series of problems with the school, said Stuart van Oostveen, the former Takijualuk principal who is now the principal of Nasivvik.
“It was very drafty, there were very few windows, the carpeting was worn, there were a few holes in the walls,” van Oostveen said. Asbestos had also been used in the school, but officials say no one was exposed.
The new school’s special features and programs should convince more students to attend class regularly, van Oostveen said.
“There’s more interest and there’s a lot more things they can do. For instance you can do experiments,” van Oostveen said.
This September, a record 268 students registered for classes. More than 100 are past the age of16, the last year in which students are legally required to attend school. To keep students in class and on time, the school schedules the popular career and technology studies classes, such as shop and drama, in the mornings.
“We do CTS… as an attraction. For those that are tardy, they aren’t missing core courses,” he said.
Grade 12 student Michael Peterloosie likes the changes.
“Now we have more opportunities to learn more things. It encourages us to come here and learn more stuff,” Peterloosie said. Peterloosie does miss the old school though, which he said has a lot of memories for him.
But for some students, the big attraction is the in-house daycare facility.
Students can drop their children off at the centre before class and can also take parenting courses from workers within the daycare.
The centre is funded through federal and territorial government programs. In kind donations also help cover the centre’s $82,000 budget. The student’s $30 a day child care subsidy is also paid directly to the centre.
Leappi Akoomalik is one student parent who wouldn’t be in school if it weren’t for the daycare.
“I decided to go back to school and it was very useful with the daycare,” she said.
Akoomalik lived in Igloolik last year. With the lack of daycare, she said she didn’t attend school. Now she hopes to finish high school.
Domina Koonark also uses the centre for her two sons, Terrence and Francois. She said in the past her babysitters would change frequently, and she doesn’t think she could attend school without the new centre.
The centre currently has space for 10 children. It hopes to add an additional three spaces soon. But van Oostveen said there’s likely about 20 children of students who could use the facility.
During the opening celebrations a $3,200 donation to the center was made by the Seltzer Chan Foundation of Toronto. The foundation was set up in memory of two people who died while kayaking near Pond Inlet in 1998.
Onlookers to the celebrations were treated to examples of drum dancing and throat singing by local elders, speeches from visiting dignitaries and a tour of the new school.