The tour of a high school for incoming Grade 9 students is an important part of the transition to the larger high school setting. After consultation with local public health officials those tours are continuing at Ecole St. Mary High School in Prince Albert.
According to St. Mary Principal Mark Phaneuf, the annual tours are part of the job that reminds him that you can always see the next year and see hope.
“We're back into that spot where we are bringing the Grade 8s from our school system in the afternoon for tours of our school and you see the excitement on their faces. Their eyes light up. They walk in and it is kind of wide eyed to the big high school in their opinion. But then they realize right now that one thing about St. Mary is that we are not trying to be like a small university but we are trying to be like a big elementary school to these kids,” Phaneuf said.
He explained that it is about transitioning into high school for Grade 8 students.
“So you see the excitement on their faces and you see some of the stress being relieved too when they are walking around the building because it doesn't seem so big anymore,” he said.
The entire process has been vetted and approved through local public health including Medical Health Officer Dr. Khami Chokani. The school was able to complete tours last year before schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
The protocols in place include bringing one class at a time for tours.
“ In previous years we did school-wide tours with Grade 8 classes they would bring all the classes in at one time, I had a vice principal do a tour, another vice principal do a tour and I would do a tour. Now it’s kind of neat because we get to be focused on the group of kids that are with us right now,” Phaneuf said.
The Grade 8 class tours started this Monday and Phaneuf expects them to run for the next two weeks to complete all of them. Phaneuf explained that another change approved by Chokani is a replacement for their traditional open house that would take place for two days beginning March 15, instead they are doing private school tours for up to two families at a time.
“If families are interested and they don't attend our school system and they want to come to St. Mary or anybody really wanting to attend St. Mary next year Grade 9 through Grade 12 all they have to do is call our main office,” Phaneuf said.
Last year's open house also occurred before schools closed to in person learning in March. The family school tours will also be beginning around the middle of March.
The main office number is 306-953-7544 and if anyone is interested in a school tour he will personally make contact to set up the tours.
“Those tours we anticipate will happen from March right through to April and possibly into May for the time to complete all of them,”
He explained that it gives the advantage of being able to tour families with multiple children possibly entering the school next school year and things are a bit more informal on the tour. He clarified that these tours are for anyone wanting to attend St. Mary not necessarily in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division system.
“We look forward to the opportunity to meet families. We have done the open house where we can at least meet the families and take them around the building but this will be a little more intimate and it will be an opportunity for people to maybe have a better understanding of what we are all about when they are trying to make their decision,” Phaneuf said.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald