LAWRENCETOWN, NS - Lawrencetown Education Centre held its school closing and graduation exercises June 26, with eight students crossing the stage to receive their diplomas in a touching and intimate ceremony.
“Another great year at LEC for graduation. We’re always amazed that some of these kids end up in our program, because they’re not here long before we start to see the great qualities come out in them,” said principal Jamie Peppard. “The change in environment and the different supports that are put in place for them really bring a new level to the meaning of student-centered education because what we do with the caseload work really explores what they’re strengths are and we apply them to what they’re going to succeed in academically.”
Students at LEC come from across the Annapolis Valley – from Kentville to Bear River. While they may not see success in their home schools, at LEC they quite often blossom in a different atmosphere that includes experiential learning.
Students donned their gowns and caps upstairs, eight friends who came together under different and often difficult circumstances to complete the educations many thought they might never attain. In fact over the years Peppard and his staff have graduated 78 students and some of them come back to the school as mentors in later years, thankful for the faith the school had in them.
Leanne Wilkins was the last to cross the stage, but when the list of her accomplishments was read out before the diploma was presented it showed a true leader in the making and whose years in army cadets alone were noteworthy.
Jenaya Forsythe was another graduate and she’ll go on to the Continuing Care Assistant program at NSCC. Elijah Bentley will attend the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown.
Also graduating were Chelsie Everett, Samuel MacDonald, Austin Ransier, Ethan Shearer, and Jacob Wentzell.
Teachers related positive and often humourous stories about each graduate before calling them up, and presented them with gifts that ranged from a camo backpack to the book Little Women. But all gifts related to a character-building experience that showed the student’s growth and strengths.
“When we look at those eight graduates cross the stage tonight, while each of them is unique and different, the commonality is they’ve come here, they’ve accepted support, they’ve explored what they are good at, and they’ve reconnected with education,” said Peppard. “As you know, as soon as you reconnect with education a whole bunch of doors are open now. When you look at that group tonight, right from COGS, to the military, to trades – it’s exciting.”
Peppard said the students’ paths were altered in education for various reasons from behavior to type of learner, or other causes.
“At some point in time they became disengaged with education,” he said. “They stopped participating in education. So when you think of that particular group now on a path to make a huge contribution to society, you know they’re going to make a great contribution to their community, their family, and most of all taken a chance at being successful themselves. Stepping to the forefront and using the education that they’ve got and applying it to what they’re interested in.”
Lawrencetown Education Centre is an alternative school and a model that the recent education inclusion report held as an example of success across the province and recommended there be eight more similar schools in place by September.