Adult education program kicks off at Fort High

Starting next week, there will be new students eagerly filing into Fort High as the school kicks off its new evening education program.
The Rainy River District School Board will be offering a number of adult education classes on everything from automobile basics for women to acquiring your G.E.D. adult high school equivalency at Fort High.
Registration for these courses will take place Thursday (Oct. 10) from 6-9 p.m. in the high school atrium or at the school’s front office during the day.
“We are offering an opportunity for people who are working during the day to expand their interests,” program organizer Mark Kowalchuk said last week.
Many of the courses will be focus on special interests, such as introduction to photography, Web Page design for novices, or fundamentals of poetry.
They also will be offering word processing fundamentals and Internet for seniors—designed for those who have little to no experience with computers—and an automotive basics for women course.
Fees range from $109 to $149 for the six to eight-week classes, depending on the session, and there are discounts for seniors.
In addition to these, the program also will offer credit courses.
“It is for people who have been out of school for a while and who want to complete their Grade 12 diploma or that employers have asked for it,” FFHS principal Ian Simpson said.
A G.E.D. adult high school equivalency program will run two nights a week for five weeks starting next Tuesday (Oct. 15) for a fee of $295. It prepares students to write their G.E.D. exam and includes the exam fee.
A 15-week Grade 11 mathematics course and a Grade 11 English course also are being offered, both of which are held on two nights beginning next Tuesday.
There is no enrolment fee for the English and math courses since they are sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Education, but there might be a slight fee for photocopied materials since the school cannot incur a cost from running the program.
But Simpson warned the night courses are not a way for students to fit more credits into their course loads.
“While these are credit courses, this is not an extension of the school day. There will not be kids there,” he noted.
Only those who have been out of high school for at least two years will be eligible to take these credit courses to ensure everyone participating feels comfortable.
“Adults don’t want to be in the same environment as students at the same time,” Simpson said.
Courses will be taught by high school staff as well as knowledgeable members of the public.
But not everyone is happy with the new evening classes.
“We are not pleased with the situation because part of [the] multi-use agreement with the board was not to offer competing courses or programs,” said Anne Renaud, manager of the Fort Frances campus of Confederation College.
“We are concerned that the spirit of our agreement with the board has been broken, as the partnership between the college and high school was required to access the funding to build the ‘multi-use’ facility,” she added.
Renaud said the college abandoned a campus building project on the riverfront to help establish this partnership.
“In our view, this new practice by the board does nothing to benefit our community as it will only create competition between two public institutions,” she argued.
“In many area communities where the college is located, boards of education are working with Confederation College to jointly deliver services.”
Simpson said the program is not intended to compete against any offered by Confederation College here.
“This is not set up to run in conflict with Confederation College. We intend to work with them and co-exist with them,” he remarked.
Simpson said he felt this was just another opportunity for the public to access hobbies of interest to them, especially since most of the classes are special interest and not credit courses.
Kowalchuk added this was a positive way to allow the public access to school services they have provided for students.
“[The new high school] opened up several years ago and there are some people who have never even been in here,” he noted.
Simpson is particularly encouraged by the thought the public will have increased access to the school because it will be a chance to highlight all the hard work and opportunities students have there.
“I think any time you get the community into the school, it helps,” he said.