Steven Gauthier had hoped to start an apprenticeship as a welder this fall but with no jobs available, his plans have changed.
The 18-year-old has returned to Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School to upgrade his math and science classes.
“It’s tough,” said Gauthier, who has found the return to high school difficult. “I know I’m an adult but I’m stuck with kids.”
He isn’t allowed to smoke, if he talks back to a teacher he risks study hall and he’s doing homework when he’d rather be taking in a steady paycheque.
But Gauthier is optimistic about his future. He wants to study welding at SAIT in Calgary and he hopes what he is learning in his high school classes this year will help in the safety courses he plans to take in the future.
Darrin DeMale, a vice-principal at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, said the reasons for students returning for Grade 13 are varied. He has seen a slight increase this year compared to last, with 80 to 85 students returning this year compared to 65 students returning in the 2008-2009 school year.
DeMale said while the economy may play a role in some students wanting to return, it isn’t the only reason.
He said other students return because they want to upgrade their marks in certain classes, improving their English 30 or Social 30 marks by 10 per cent. International students often take an extra year because they are learning English at the same time they are taking all of the other courses.
Students are allowed to return to class without a cost for Grade 13 if they are 19 years of age or younger as of Sept. 1 of that year. After that, the students must go to the college to get the credits they need.
DeMale said another factor for students is that the graduation policy tightened last year. Students needed 100 credits. DeMale said this has meant some students have had to return this year for a few credits.
Brianna Wiebe, 17, returned to class for Grade 13 in order to get the classes she needs to graduate. She is studying Grade 12 social, French, biology and math this year. So far, the return to high school hasn’t been a bad experience for her. She still has friends at the school and she has found the classes easier than she expected.
She wants to be a zookeeper in the future because she has always loved animals — not just the fluffy ones, she even likes frogs. Although the economy didn’t have an effect on Wiebe’s decision to return to school, she has noticed it’s a lot more difficult to find a job now. Wiebe said finding a job was easy in the past, but now she would have to put resumes out everywhere. She has plans to eventually go to university.
DeMale said from what he has seen, students are still quite optimistic and are informed about their options. “I think there is an awful lot of hope that is still out there in terms of living in Alberta,” he said.