Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 3, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
The Lcthbndcic Herald Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Friday, January 3, 1975 Pages 13-24 First of a series BEV FRANKCOMB IS A GRADE 10 FRENCH STUDENT Halton high school: a community affair SEWING CLASS AT PINCHER CREEK HIGH SCHOOL PINCHER CREEK Hidden' in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains two miles off Highway 3 near the Crowsnest Pass, this lively community boasts one of the most ad- vanced life long secondary education systems in the country. Proving that rural towns aren't all destined to a slow death caused by the terminal dis- ease of population decline, the spirit that keeps Pincher Creek alive long after the sun falls behind the mountains has spread to Mathew Halton High School. The spirit of co operation and involvement has not only rubbed off on the school but is now originating from it. In an age when most rural schools are suf- fering from declining enrolments, Mathew Halton High School is what it believes to be the ideal community school. A tour of the school leaves the impression it is operating much closer to the community college concept than the traditional role of a high school. The concept is one many educators are beginning to suggest high schools must adopt, especially in rural areas, and which school boards are cautiously approaching by im- plementing certain aspects of the ideal com- munity school. To the forward thinking staff at Mathew Halton, the community school concept is old hat. They have been developing the community school idea since 1972 and are now at a stage where they believe the ideal school is operating at Pincher Creek. While some schools carry the community school label because they offer a few evening courses for adults or allow the community to use their recreation and library facilities after regular school hours, they are com- parative infants in the ideal community school cradle. Community school co ordinator and Mathew Halton vice principal Wayne Pinkney suggests the ideal concept of a com- munity school is attained only when the school becomes an "essential and integral part of its community." At Mathew Halton, the child and adult are integrated during an extended school day. Adults and young people study at the school together during the day and evening and students work in the community under the supervision of the school. The whole concept is based on co opera- tion between the school and community. Too often, Mr. Pinkney points out, schools only reach out to the community when they need financial support or assistance with a special project. To gain the co operation of the com- munity, the school had to concentrate on "removing the traditional barrier that ex- isted between the two, he recalls. It was up to the school to show that it wanted to be part of the total community and not a separate identity, says the vice prin- cipal who acts as the school's liason officer in the community. To Wayne Pinkney, the name of the game is public relations. Consequently, he spends as much time conversing with the community as he does with students and staff in the school. One of the first steps in developing a co operative relationship is to remove the barrier that sometimes exists between the school staff and the community. This was accomplished in the early stages of community school development in December, 1972, by offering twelve evening credit courses for both young and old. The courses were offered one night a week and were taught by regular school staff. The only remuneration received was two days' leave at their convenience during the semester. Two years later the school staff still carries the bulk of the teaching load during the normal day and in the evening. Their service is still offered on a voluntary basis without pay. "We're not interested in paying them an hourly wage to come back and teach in the Mr. Pinkney points out. He fears remuneration would encourage staff members to carry a teaching overload. The teachers are now permitted to take the afternoon or morning off when they work evenings. "We don't want them to be overloaded so daytime classes suffer, he says. Since the first months of operation, the Mathew Halton community school has ex- panded from simply offering evening credit courses to including the community in school curriculum planning and use of school facilities for recreation and educational pur- poses. It also uses community facilities for school educational'and recreational purposes and participates in studies in and about the com- munity. The school uses such community services as provided by the preventive social service and fish and wildlife offices, the district agriculturist and home economist. The school uses the town's curling rink, swimming pool, golf course ice arena arid the town uses the school gymnasium and other recreation facilities and has also been gradually expanding into the area of non credit courses. TEACHER BILL HLADY LEFT, BOBBI THOMAS Stories by JIM GRANT Photos by BILL GROENEN Staff Members Pincher Creek people responsible for life-long education boom PINCHER CREEK The enthusiasm building here for life-long education is catching, according to Wayne Pinkney, vice principal at Mathew Halton High School. Many programs have come about because people carne to the school and requested them. Once the community has shown interest in a class, the community will do the "work of promoting" and the school will only have to handle the ad- ministration. The type of course varies as interest, varies from one group to another. A business firm may ask the school to provide an upgrading course for its employees, a group of expectant mothers may re- quest a pre-natal course and parents might express interest in a babysitting course for teenagers. AH those courses have been or are being offered by the school. Courses proposed for introduction after the 1975 Canada Winter Games include basic landscaping and home gardening, social dance, cake decorating, candlecraft, upholstery, wallpapering, flyfishing, metric conversion, business law, fibre glass sculpturing, women's hairstyling and many others. The school begins making the arrangements for the course once six applications have been received from interested per- sons. Finding six interested persons .shouldn't be difficult for the school, considering the amount of interest it has already received. Even when 'walking down the street or eating lunch in a restaurant, the program co-ordinator is approached by people who have filled out an application form expressing their interest in one or more of the courses. One of the foremost duties of administrating non-credit courses is to obtain the services of the "best possible instruc- tors. I mean really qualified he states. If the instructors are qualified, the community will realize the school is serious about its non-credit course offerings, he ex- plains. "It certainly builds community confidence in what we are offering." The school had difficulty convincing Pincher Creek and sur- rounding community residents that it was serious about having adults attend the school in day or evening. "They couldn't understand why we were doing it when there didn't appear to anything in it for us (the Mr. Pinkney recalls. All courses and facilities are offered to adults and the com- munity in general without charge. The questioning attitude of the public has changed over the past two years as the school "got out there in front of them and opened up opportunities for them and channels of com- says the man with the ear-to-ear grin in charge of school communication with the community. Wayne Pinkney believes the efforts of those involved with the program are beginning to show dividends. "When people come into the school now, they feel a certain attachment and investment in the school because of their in- he boasts. The greater utilization of expensive public buildings and equipment and the "idea of providing for the educational needs" of those who are not in the typical school-age group is "receiving a great deal of a report on the program prepared by the school states. "As yet we have encountered no insurmountable barriers to the success of our community the report points out. Principal Casaba Lonnczi has only been involved with the program since September when he replaced R. E. Cope as chief administrator of the school but he is enthusiastic about the school being thought of as the centre of the community. He proudly displays a community school structure chart that shows the school co-operating" with the Pincher Creek recreation board, preventive social services, local businesses, service clubs, chamber of commerce, municipal district.; town council and the school board. A tour of the school on any day or evening might reveal hospital administrators presenting an audio-visual presentation to their employees, adults using or working as volunteers-in the library or Gulf and Shell oil company personnel participating in an upgrading or special-interest course. Other people may be studying a course offered at the school by the University of Calgary or participating in a trade program taught by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. Still other adults may be studying English, typing, business machine, auto mechanics, welding or home economics with the younger students. In one case a mother is taking courses during the day along with her daughter. Mr. Pinkney feels it is advantageous to have adults and young people attend classes together because they gain a better understanding of each other. Also, "discipline is much he says. The school makes every attempt to co-operate with the community in a number of more minor ways. School equipment, such as the copy machine, may be used in the school by businessmen, the school library is open one night a week for community use (in addition to daytime use) and the school schedule may be adjusted'to free school facilities for communi- ty use. "I hope that district conferences" of companies and organizations will be held at the school in the near future, the co-ordinator suggests. The school also plans its awards night, Christmas program and dance, literary evening and graduation ceremonies and dance so they appeal to both young people and adults. "We believe that largely as a result of these conscious ef- forts, more parents are attending our functions and thus im- proving the home and school the school program report states. Since the departments of education, advanced education and culture, youth and recreation sponsor the community school program at Mathew Halton High School, the provincial government evaluated the program last spring. Assisted by Grade 12 students from the school, the depart- ment of culture, youth and recreation personnel conducted a random survey of 20 per cent of the households in PinCher Creek to obtain their response to the program. Ninety per .cent of the respondents (95 per cent of those sur- veyed) were in favor of the project while less than three per cent responded negatively toward it. Only 14 per cent of those responding to the survey had par- ticipated in the community school program, a figure that school officials feel increased substantially since last spring. The evaluation report also suggests the school must attempt to reach more of the people who have an average or below average formal education. The survey results showed that the people who participated in the community school had completed more formal education than the average. Another evaluation will be administered by the province in May.