“School’s back from summer.”

No, it’s never as enthralling for youngsters to hear these modified lyrics to the Alice Cooper classic, but the fact of the matter is – as of today (Sept. 1) – class is officially in session.

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, however, as children in northern Saskatchewan have many exciting things to look forward to including a variety of programming, reuniting with friends and the opportunity to become involved in numerous extracurricular activities. And, thanks to the continued efforts of the region’s respective school divisions, students now have a better chance of experiencing academic success than ever before.

Earlier this year, the provincial government put student success at the top of its priority list by increasing its overall investment in education by 7.8 per cent to a total of $2.2 billion. At the time, then education minister Don Morgan was quoted as saying, “We remain committed to working with our sector partners to achieve the goals set out in the Plan for Growth and the Education Sector Strategic Plan, including improving achievements in reading and leading the country in graduation rates by 2020.”

Sure, it may all sound like political mumbo jumbo, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Officials with the Northwest School Division, the Northern Lights School Division, as well as the Ile-a-la Crosse School Division recently gave a rundown of the specific areas they plan to focus on for the 2016-17 school year. It’s almost impossible to differentiate one from the other, as all three understand the importance of literacy, increased attendance rates and ensuring a greater number of graduates cross the stage to receive their well-deserved and much needed high school diploma.

In Meadow Lake, it’s great to see Carpenter High School introduce the new position of grad coach. Pat Gervais, a long-time educator with both the NWSD and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, has taken on the role and promises to do the best job she can to help students realize their full potential. Last year, CHS’ graduation rate ranked somewhere in the 70 per cent range, but with a little reassurance and perhaps a friendly nudge toward the right path, there’s no reason why this number can’t improve greatly in a relatively short period of time.

Meanwhile, further north, NLSD director of education Ken Ladouceur made a lot of sense when he suggested setting realistic goals. The number of NLSD students who graduate on time currently sits around the 27 per cent mark, while, overall, the grad rate is closer to 50 per cent. Obviously there’s room for improvement, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Through continued support and communication at school and at home, however, change will happen. It may take time, but good things indeed come to those who wait.

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