Enrolment slightly increases in southeast Saskatchewan

Student enrolment has increased for majority of schools in southeast Saskatchewan, particularly in the Moosomin, Esterhazy, and Kipling areas.

Enrolment has increased this year at MacLeod Elementary School in Moosomin. Compared to last the two years of enrolment sitting at 275 students, this year there are 280 students enroled at MacLeod, for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Principal Tammy Cole of MacLeod Elementary School said she has noticed a few more students from diverse backgrounds enroled this year.

“Some of the students were registered in June, for this school year. We definitely have a group of people from the Ukraine, we have some people from South Africa, and we had some new students from the Philippines as well,” Cole said.

As some of the newer students are still learning English, Cole spoke about the different support systems students have at MacLeod.

“Google Translate is one of the tools we use to support students but, it is quite amazing how quickly they catch on to English,” said Cole.

“We have iPads so they can put Google Translate on the iPad and utilize it in the classroom.

“We had a new student who came AT the beginning of June and knew no English at all, but he caught on pretty quickly. He used Google translate on the iPad often in the classroom. It’s quite amazing to see, the kids love it.

There have also been a few new students at McNaughton High School this year.

“We have a few new families coming in, we have a student who has come from India, a family that’s come from the Philippines, and two families who have come from South Africa,” said Principal at McNaughton High School Sherrie Meredith.

“We’ve had a number of Filipino families here for a number of years already. This is probably the second family from India in the last three years. It’s been great.

“I think everyone seems well received. We’re a very welcoming and open school culture so it’s been great.”

Meredith said learning English has not been a barrier to the newer students at the school.

“We’ve been very fortunate. For us when they come here, they’re usually well versed, but we do a welcoming checklist as well,” she said.

“Our learning support team would do that just to make sure there aren’t any deficiencies on how we can support them, but we’ve often found that most people fairly have a good handle on English when they’re here.”

If needed, there are English as an Additional Language (EAL) consultants available at the school, Meredith added.

“We have an English as an Additional Language consultant that comes to us from the division office and sets us up very well with support,” she said.

“We can use our response intervention coaches to help with that.

“We have a very dedicated learning support team that works with all those different needs for sure.”

Both of the elementary and high schools in Esterhazy have seen slight increases in student enrolment for this year.

At Esterhazy High School, enrolment increased by 10 students bringing this year’s enrolment to 347 students.

Last year, enrolment was at 336 students, prior to that, enrolment was at 315 students for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“We have 19 students who are new to our school,” said Tracy Huckell, Principal at Esterhazy High School.

“From the new students that came, some are from across Canada, and neighbouring communities, but we also have kids from Vietnam, South Africa, and from Ukraine.”

Over the last couple of years, Huckell said she has noticed more families who have moved to the community.

“We really do have kids from all over the world, that really has changed over the last 10 years I would say,” said Huckell.

“Its continuous that employment around here is bringing people from all over which is pretty awesome.

“I’ve taught here for six years, and in that six years I would say we were pretty diverse. I don’t see that increasing a whole lot from where that was because even six years ago we were noticing that, but I would say when I was here about 15 years ago, we didn’t have almost any of that.

“That’s a big change over the last 15 years. Our school is way more diverse now.”

Huckell spoke about the resources the school has for students who are learning English as an additional language.

“There are a few students who don’t know English, and a couple of the other students who came would know very little English,” she said.

“There’s quite a variety in what they come with for English. We do language screening when they first come to get that sense of where they’re at.

“We also work closely with the Settlement and Intergration Worker from Yorkton. When we enrol those new students, they support us by making sure that all the citizenship papers are in place, then they meet with the family to make sure that things are going well for the family. It’s also a nice transition support as well.

“We do have access to online resources too, there are some interpreters and translating services.

“One family who is coming here, one of our teachers is going to connect with the family through that, to be able to have a conversation with them, because they don’t speak English at all.

“Those types of supports help. We use a lot of the translator apps on the phone with kids and families as well, which is a helpful tool, technology certainly helps that. For a lot of the kids its just immersing them in the classroom, and they really do pick it up when they are immersed.”

With enrolment numbers continuing to increase over the last few years at Esterhazy High School, Huckell said they are expecting it to go up next year as well.

“We will be getting a very large class from Stockholm next year,” she said. “Next year, we are expecting enrolment to rise with a larger class coming over from Macdonald School in Stockholm.”

This year’s student enrolment at P.J Gillen School increased by five students, setting the current enrolment at 237 kids.

“We do have an increase in students, I think everyone is fitting in really well,” said Principal Wanita Lippai.

“We’re happy to see our numbers go up and we’re happy to see our community thrive. When we get those new families and those new children, it just adds to the community and it’s really nice to see.

“It’s nice to see Esterhazy growing and thriving. It’s been a steady increase which is good thing, it keeps our school vibrant and our community vibrant.”

Student enrolment has increased at Kipling School by 14 students this year.

The school now has about 402 students, compared to last year’s enrolment of 388.

“We have seen an increase of students this year, we’re over the 400 mark now,” said Principal David Bircher.

Bircher said the focus for educators this year is on students being more engaged with their studies.

“This year will be business as usual, but also one of our overall school goals is re-engaging students in education because we’ve known, since Covid, that has dropped, and many other schools have noticed the same,” he said.

“That includes the little things, getting assignments in on time, students keeping up with their school work, showing how school work is important from not just one grade to the other, but how it does help in your fields after high school, and everyone whose part of that, which is home and school, we all work together to make that happen.”

Bircher was asked if there are any noticeable impacts on students’ learning post-pandemic.

“I don’t think it’s that directly, we just noticed tying school work in has become more difficult to say the least,” he said.

“There’s a lot of students who take their education very seriously, but there’s some who don’t and they definitely have the ability to do better.”

For this school year, there are 209 students enroled at Wawota Parkland School which slightly decreased from the 2022-2023 academic year enrolment of 213 students.

Principal Jos Risling said enrolment as been good over the last few years.

“It’s great, with the enrolment staying at status quo means we can offer more opportunities to students,” said Risling.

“If there’s a drastic decrease then that usually results in a staff cut.”

Within the last two years, the community of Wawota has welcomed a few families from the Ukraine.

“There haven’t been any new Ukrainian students, it’s the same as last year,” said Risling.

“We had one fellow who I think was considering, but I think he’s going to continue on with his Ukrainian studies online for a little bit and may join us a little bit later.”

Risling said he is looking forward to engaging with students and teachers this year.

Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator

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