DVSS principal Curtis LaPierre has just returned from an overseas trip to meet with potential students and parents as well as spread the word of the International Program at the school.
LaPierre left for China, on November 4 for an eight-day trip, which included a visit to Hong Kong. While recruitment and promotion were a big part of the trip, another was discussion on curriculum.
“I went to a high school and sat down with the administration there and talked to them about why Chinese students are challenged by English 30 and Social 30, and what they could do to better prepare their students for coming to Canada,” said LaPierre. Math and sciences are no problem, but social and English are real problems.”
The trip also took him to Hong Kong to meet with agents who arrange international study opportunities for students. In fact, three students registered on the spot to come to Drumheller.
LaPierre also met with the parents of current students at DVSS as well as the parents of incoming students while he was in Hong Kong.
While the Golden Hills International Program was a pioneer in Alberta and enjoyed strong success in terms of numbers early on, it has seen incoming students drop as economic conditions worsened.
“In the school division overall, we are down to about 170 international students. We used to run about 260,” said LaPierre. “That is simply because of economics.”
Another reason for the drop is other schools in Alberta have seen the success of this model.
“When we started seven years ago, there used to be three school divisions in the whole province, now there are 30 that are actively marketing for international students, so the competition side has gone up significantly.
“Like any venture the landscape is always changing.”
While numbers fluctuate, the program has been a success.
He says the main goal of the international program when it was brought in was to utilize the dormitories, diversify the students' international experience here in the valley, provide international students with the Canadian experience, and maintain programs for Drumheller students. He said if it weren’t for the International Program, DVSS would have three less full time teachers.
“It has really been a positive thing, and the kids are well accepted not just by the school community, but by the community at large,” said LaPierre.