|SENIOR OUTREACH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO STAY IN WESTMOUNT|
MONTREAL, OCTOBER 9, 2003- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has announced that the 19 Secondary V students at Outreach High School will remain at their present quarters in Westmount. Eight Secondary IV students, however, will be transferred next week to Options I High School in Ville Emard which offers the same program. Students can decide to attend classes elsewhere if they so desire.
Outreach carries the same name as the successful alternative program which has played a critical role in stemming the high school dropout rate. Developed by the former Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (PSBGM) more than 25 years ago in order to recruit students who had already dropped out of school, the Outreach system has evolved over the years and the focus has now become preventative in nature. The program is designed to help individuals attain academic success, increase self-esteem and self-motivation, as well as to foster increased independence and self-reliance in learning. It provides a structured, stimulating, supportive and student-centered environment designed to optimize student learning potential in a small group setting. The approach focuses on individual needs, as well as the personal development of the student’s academic and social needs while offering a nurturing, safe and caring learning environment in order to help students experience individual academic success and acquire appropriate social and behavioral skills.
This year the Outreach system expanded to nine schools, with the addition of Perspectives I and Perspectives II in Montreal North, marking the program’s debut in the East End. Options I is housed in the same facility as Options II and Venture, at 1741 de Biencourt. The remaining Outreach schools are Vezina in Pointe St. Charles, Doorways in St. Henri and Project Mile End on De L’Epee Street in the Plateau area.
Outreach High School’s target student enrolment is 45. This year there were only 27 students – eight in Secondary IV and 19 in Secondary V. For this reason, the EMSB is unable to provide them with their previous allocation of three full-time teachers. At a meeting last night, Secondary V students were given the option of remaining in Westmount with the equivalent of 1.4 teachers or moving to Ville Emard as well. In the case of Secondary IV, there are not enough students to merit a separate teacher allocation.
"Results show that our Outreach schools are successful in keeping adolescents in school," says EMSB Regional Director Mario Tirelli, who is responsible for the Outreach system. "For many of them, they are experiencing success for the first time – success being defined as passing at a grade level and obtaining credits towards a high school diploma. There are numerous requests for placements from parents, guidance counsellors and administrators of schools in the eastern sector. Students cannot always be placed in our existing Outreach schools. They therefore remain in schools where it is difficult to adequately meet their needs. For the most part, students who are referred to the Outreach system are not motivated to attend school. These students have difficulties with attendance and punctuality. As well, they exhibit behavioral and social difficulties, both in school and in the community."
Michael J. Cohen