The Niagara Academy, a school with a unique calling, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year

It’s kind of a mantra that reminds students that they are committed and optimistic, that they work hard, and most importantly, that they will one day enter post-secondary education.

We believe! We are the DSBN Academy. We have a future and we are responsible for it. We will be graduates of colleges and universities. We are involved and enthusiastic.

A quote from Extract from the creed of the DSBN Academy, free translation

That is the main purpose of this unique school that serves 6th through 12th grade students from across the Niagara region. We want to give students all the tools to continue studying at college and university after high school.

In fact, these young people will be the first in their families to complete a post-secondary degree.

This is the main criterion for admission to: the Academy

Everything is done, proposed and taught so that they reach the ultimate goal.

Starting with the messages that can be read here and there in the school, which aim to inspire and encourage young people to surpass themselves.

Every day, when entering the school, the youngsters see the countdown to the next graduation ceremony.

Photo: Radio Canada / Mark Bochsler

An electronic count at the entrance to the school reminds young people of the number of days left until the next graduation ceremony, to which all students at the school are invited.

Josh Campbell is proud of his journey as he prepares to graduate from Niagara Academy in a few weeks.

Josh Campbell will be the first in his family to attend post-secondary school.

Photo: Radio Canada / Mark Bochsler

The idea is to project yourself towards this goal.

I remember the little boy I was when I woke up the Academy† And now, every day, I walk into the school and look at this count. I can’t help but think this is for me. This is what I’ve been waiting for for years. It’s extraordinary.

A quote from Academy Twelfth Grader Josh Campbell

Another routine

The school day is longer than at a regular school, because extracurricular activities are mandatory after class.

After these programs, only school transportation is offered.

The teachers participate in the activities. It’s another way to build bridges.

Each teacher is also responsible for advising students in small groups. It is a mentoring activity, a weekly contact point that helps to deal with the different phases and challenges of life.

What is special about this is the bond you create with the staff. It’s the same teachers through the years and the stages. We can count on them and ask for help where necessary.

A quote from Anastasha Raphael, twelfth grader
Anastasha Raphael has been working for years with the aim of pursuing post-secondary education.

Anastasha Raphael will complete her studies at the Academy this year before attending Brock University.

Photo: Radio Canada / Mark Bochsler

The Academy believes in the importance of mentoring students so much that she helps them prepare their applications for colleges and universities.

The procedures take place during school hours. The school even pays the associated costs.

10 years later

The Academy is inspired by schools in California. It was originally intended for underprivileged children in Niagara, which caused controversy 10 years ago. Many feared that young people would be stigmatized.

The eligibility criteria were therefore changed.

Since 10 years, only children whose parents have not completed post-secondary education are admitted.

Lisa Nazar contributed to the establishment of the school. She is now the director of secondary at the Academy

Lisa Nazar helped design the school project to help underprivileged children on the peninsula more than ten years ago.

Niagara Academy High School Principal Lisa Nazar calls the school a success for the past 10 years

Photo: Radio Canada / Mark Bochsler

She vividly remembers the challenges of the early days when the whole area took a close look at the school.

I have worked in schools in the past where the parents of students did not have a post-secondary education and where many families were disadvantaged. It has always worried me. In primary school, the children from these families generally did very well. Then, in high school, there were the challenges of life. And these students did not always receive the necessary support to continue their studies.

A quote from Lisa Nazar, Director of Secondary Education, DSBN Academy School

Hundreds of students attended the Academy during the first year of its existence. This year the school has 450 pupils and more can be accommodated. She is not at full capacity.

She therefore does not have a waiting list and is not allowed to refuse young people.

According to Lisa Nazar, 89% of students enroll in post-secondary education within a year of graduating from high school.

However, it is difficult to determine how many young people complete their post-secondary education, as they do not have to provide this information to the school.

Authorized help

Kevin Gosine was one of the school’s concept skeptics 10 years ago. He is a sociologist and teaches at Brock University.

He had taken part in information evenings and in the community debate at the time.

He was afraid that young people who often the Academy are stigmatized and do not come into contact with a diversity of children.

Ten years later, he has the successes of the Academybut he has had graduates from the school in his classrooms and hears only good things about their experience.

I still have my reservations about the idea of ​​segregating students based on their socioeconomic status, their race, their special needs. I think it is helpful for young people to interact with peers from different backgrounds. That said, I always enjoy hearing stories of initiatives that help tackle inequality. I’m happy to hear about the Academy’s successes that I’ve seen through the stories, anecdotes and feedback I’ve had so far.

A quote from Kevin Gosine, associate professor of sociology, Brock University

Give back what we have received

Zachery Harrietta is part of the first cohort of graduates.

Zachery Harrietha helps young people with compulsory extracurricular activities.

Every week, Academy grad Zachery Harrietha returns to volunteer at his old school

Photo: Radio Canada / Mark Bochsler

He will complete a university degree in science this year and plans to start a second degree in education in September.

He is therefore the first in his family to obtain a university degree.

Mr Harrietha says he has enjoyed his experience at… the Academy that he comes back every week to volunteer, a way of giving back what he has received.

In addition, his sister is finishing her twelfth year this year at the Academy† It is now a family affair.

However, his children, if he has any, will not be able to go to school because they will have a father who has a university education.

It’s sad to know my kids can’t study at the Academy† But it shows that the program is working. I will be able to give them the support and the tools that I have been given here.

A quote from Academy graduate Zachery Harrietha

Her mother, Jackie Harrietha, is proud of her children and proud that she made the decision to send her oldest to the Academy 10 years ago, despite the controversy. As a single mother of three, she couldn’t have given him all the resources the school offered him.

According to her, if people really know how the Academythey let go of prejudices and preconceived ideas.

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