Char-Lan’s ‘culture of caring’
Char-Lan District High School principal Catherine Cooper remembers the day last fall when the Upper Canada District School Board announced that her school was being considered for closure.
“On the day the news came out, we all gathered together in the cafeteria,” she says. “I explained that it would be a long process but we weren’t going to let it define us. I told the students that they still needed to have a great year.”
Evidently, the students took their principal’s advice and produced a school year that has proven rich in athlethic accomplishments, academic achievements and social interaction.
Two years ago, Ms. Cooper started an archery program using a $10,000 Learn to Play grant from RBC. After training five teachers in archery, the program started in earnest. This year, the students participated in the National Archery Competition and one of them, Hannah Rousseau, even won a silver medal.
Char-Lan’s girls’ hockey team won the championship for the third year in a row. The senior girls volleyball and boys soccer teams also enjoyed championship seasons and Brennan Seguin won a gold medal at OFSAA in pole vaulting.
And once again, Char-Lan won the top fundraising per student award for its annual Terry Fox run.
Char-Lan also joined in on the Canada 150 celebration, holding a party in February that saw young and older students enjoying activities at the CharLan Rec Centre and at nearby Paul Rozon Park.
When it comes to the arts, a whole lot of ink can be spilled about the school’s smash hit musical, Love Sick, that was written by student Emma Charpentier.
Regarding academics, Char-Lan’s EQAO test re- sults averaged out over the past five years were the highest in the school board. Char-Lan also enjoys the second highest graduation rate among the board’s secondary schools.
Cullen St. Clair, a Grade 7 student who won big at the SDG science fair even had an opportunity to attend the national science fair in Regina. Also, four of the school’s carpentry students progressed to the Skills Ontario Finals.
Still, when you ask Ms. Cooper what she remembers most about the school year, she won’t say anything about the academic or athletic achievements. She’ll talk about the school’s culture of caring.
She’ll talk about how, on a given afternoon, the school’s senior students are playing basketball with some of the intermediate non-verbal kids.
She’ll talk about how high needs students are welcomed into the school’s Learning Commons for regular gaming sessions.
It is instances like these, Ms. Cooper says, that made Char-Lan’s school year so memorable.
GRADUATES: Char-Lan graduates Emily Tourangeau, Mackenzie Smith, Lee-Anne Warden and Chantal Vivarais.