Tim Bloomfield speaks to the Medicine Hat Public School District’s board on Tuesday during an in-person meeting. Bloomfield was spewaking on behalf of Coulee Collegiate. MEDICINE HAT NEWS FILE

Coulee Collegiate principal Tim Bloomfield broke down the school’s operating structure  to the board of Prairie Rose Public Schools this week. The school is split in half, with mature students receiving in-person learning and those still in high school accessing distance learning. 

Coulee Collegiate is for anyone who wishes to complete a high school course. There are hundreds of students who are still in a traditional high school but taking a course on the side through Coulee Collegiate. These are often high achieving academic students who are looking to fast track aspects of their education. 

The school also caters to students who don’t fit into traditional schools for whatever reason. Advisers at Coulee Collegiate will step in and build a program to help these students succeed. Bloomfield stated they never turn away a student for any reasons, some need different programming for various reasons and they prefer not to pigeon hole anyone. 

One of their goals is to move students back into traditional schooling and they don’t see many who sign up in Grade 10 and complete all their schooling at CC. The first step is sitting down with the student and parents or guardians to start building a program around what they want. 

Last year, 900 students were registered through Coulee Collegiate, with 400-550 active at any one time. Enrolment on Sept. 30, 2022 was 515 students. Many of those numbers are pursuing student-led learning. Those under 19 years old can access the courses for free, but adult students need to pay tuition, which is about $680 for each course. The school operates year-round as it doesn’t make sense to them to shut down in June. However, there is not as much support available, such as free tutoring in the evenings during the summer. 

Mature students, over 18, receive a college ID, get to use the athletic facilities and are not always subject to diploma exams. The school follows the college semester, which doesn’t jive with diploma exam schedules. A mature student will receive their final grade on a Medicine Hat College transcript, which can then be used to apply for the college program the student wishes to enter without having to take the diploma. 

Students graduate throughout the year and are offered the opportunity to have whatever type of ceremony they like. The school has a cap and gown and the graduation is individualized for the student, with some choosing to forego it completely. 

Class sizes vary, with the largest classes having about 28 students. In classes, such as ESL, numbers can be as low as six. The more academic class sizes are larger, such as in the English, Math and Science 30s. In the lower levels of those core subjects, class sizes average between 10 to 15 students. Bloomfield explained this works well for students who need extra support. The school only offers a section that has satisfactory enrolment numbers and will cancel a block if the numbers aren’t high enough, shuffling those students around into other courses.  

For more information about Coulee Collegiate, visit https://couleecollegiate.myprps.com/

By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 15, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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