The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
Dear Editor: I read with disappointment Mr. Brown's statements in the November 4, 2003 issue of The Reminder concerning the creation of a high school in Creighton. As an educator of both Flin Flon and Creighton students for over 30 years I would like to share some of my thoughts with the residents of both communities. I note that Mr. Brown states that Flin Flon has an excellent high school program. That is a fact. Many, many students from Creighton/Denare Beach have graduated from Hapnot and won scholarships at post secondary institutions across Canada. The HBM&S scholarships are frequently won by Creighton School graduates. One of the benefits of students graduating from Hapnot/Many Faces is that they are considered as resident students at both Manitoba and Saskatchewan universities for most programs. This is a real benefit. Those universities have smaller quotas in their programs for out-of-province students. So let's put to bed any thought that a new high school is needed for better education. Mr. Brown stated that education is always about money. How true! Sometimes that's good, sometimes not so good. Mr. Brown claims a study shows that Creighton could save $300,000 with their own high school. Perhaps, but let me point out some facts. As a result of economy of scale the average classroom size at Hapnot is usually just over 20 students per class. Many of the compulsory classes can have 25 or 30 students enrolled. This allows Hapnot to offer many optional courses that students require with class sizes of 10 to 15 students. Because there are approximately 500 students, Hapnot is able to offer a wide variety of options, such as Band, French, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Computer Science, Art, Industrial Arts/Home Economics, etc., etc. When I was principal we offered about 70 odd options. I doubt that has changed much. With approximately 100 students spread over three grades, Creighton will have about 33 students per grade to choose from. If you put all 33 students in one class, that is a fairly large class (not ideal) but worse, it offers no choice for those students. If they are given only one option and 50% chose it, then the average class size drops to 16 students. That will cost more to operate than the average class at Hapnot. It will be impossible to offer students any real choice. I will give some examples based on typical Hapnot averages which I believe will be consistent with Creighton students' choices. At Hapnot about 33% of Grade 12 students chose Chemistry, about 20% chose Physics, about 66% Biology, perhaps 10% Computer Science, 10% Band, 5% Industrial Arts/Home Economics, and so on. Let's apply those percentages to the proposed Creighton High School situation. With 33 students in Grade 12 that would meant one Chemistry class of 11, a Physics class of 7, a Biology class of 20, a Computer class of 3 or 4 with the same in Art, History and other optional courses. When you have to provide a teacher for classes of 10 or 15 students, it becomes tremendously expensive. Classes of three or four are not financially feasible. When a community operates a high school with 90 or 100 students from grades 10 to 12 special programs such as Band, French, Industrial Arts and general level courses for average learners are difficult if not impossible to offer. Extracurricular activities are also difficult to maintain. School sports, choir, drama, etc., fall by the wayside. While I agree with Mr. Brown that education is about money, I question that any saving can be made if a meaningful education is to be offered. The task force report stated that another "benefit" of a local high school would be control of the program. Perhaps this is the real crux of the problem. Is the Creighton School Board upset with the fact that they pay the Flin Flon School Division almost one million dollars a year and have no voice on the Flin Flon board and no opportunity to influence education and financial decisions? They should be upset. Can't this "political" problem be solved? Can't Flin Flon invite some members of the Creighton board to sit on a joint school board that overlooks the Hapnot/Many Faces education scene? Let's learn from our mistakes of the past. Too often both communities have had parallel facilities and services that cost both communities precious taxes. Then we find we can't afford to operate both and have to close one. See 'Students' P.# Con't from P.# We have had an excellent working relationship with Creighton students attending both Hapnot and Many Faces, surely we can work out a joint governance agreement. It is fair and it makes economic sense. If Creighton School population is in fact decreasing as Flin Flon's is, then the economy of scale I have described will worsen. Creighton will, in a very few years, be trying to maintain a high school with 40 or 50 students spread across three or four grades and Flin Flon will be struggling to offer worthwhile options to students with perhaps 200 or 300 students in Hapnot. The taxpayers of both communities deserve better. It is imperative that the school boards work cooperatively to ensure both the best use of our tax dollars and the best education for our children. Thank you Mr. Editor for the space this letter has taken. Yours in Education, Glenn Smith Principal - Hapnot Collegiate (Retired)