Public school district has goals for graduates

Red Deer Public Schools Director Bruce Buruma recently presented a plan to increase the number of high school graduates in Red Deer.

Buruma said that one of the most important steps in the process to increasing graduates is engaging the community in conversation regarding how this can be done.

Lawrence Lee, chair of the board of trustees for Red Deer Public Schools, said high school completion is one of the most important goals.

“Certainly I think if we take a look around us signs are everywhere that it is vital that our young people complete high school,” he said.

This year, the Red Deer Public School’s education plan identified three priorities including literacy, inclusion and high school completion and transitions.

“The number of students who complete high school within three years of starting provincially is 72 per cent while here in Red Deer it’s 69 per cent,” said Lee.

Lee pointed out this number affects the entire community and that high school completion is essential to maximize the potential of each student.

“Red Deer Public Schools offers a number of programs and services to support high school completion and we recognize we need to do better,” said Lee.

As a part of “doing better” Red Deer Public Schools has launched an online conversation with the public from their web site where they ask one simple question – ‘If you were superintendent for one day, what would you do to increase high school completion?’

“We recognize that there are barriers to completion some of which are school based and others happen outside. Together as educators, students and parents we need to broaden the discussions to increase our percentages,” said Lee.

Della Ruston, principal of Westpark Middle School, said high school completion is not a focus just in the final grades of high school.

“We feel that we have a really important role to play. We’re the bridge between the elementary school and the high school,” said Ruston.

Ruston said a big part of a successful school career is having the students feel physically and emotionally safe.

“It’s really hard for kids at any level to be successful if they’re concerned about safety,” said Ruston.

Buruma said he is excited to see what feedback the community will provide.

Red Deer Public School Superintendent Pieter Langstraat said high school completion is a big priority in the City.

“I don’t believe that we as school administrators have all the answers so we’re looking for information outside of what we would normally think of,” said Langstraat.

All people who contribute ideas on the web site will be entered into a draw to win a free iPad as incentive to get the community’s input.

“Even today when I was looking at responses somebody put up that students could post a bond and get it back at graduation. It isn’t necessarily something we’ll adopt but it’s an idea that was new to me,” said Langstraat.

The goal behind having the question online is to reach audiences that otherwise may be silent on the issue.

“We want to hear from young people who have left school and the reasons they have done so. We want to hear from the broader community, seniors, business leaders and the people who don’t have children,” said Langstraat.

The question is available through the Red Deer Public School web site at