Choosing the right high school

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August 7, 2017 - 12:00am Updated: August 29, 2017 - 10:09am

High school, a time of transition, new endeavors, a time of self-revelation and for some the pivoting point for career choices and major decisions affecting your entire future.

It is because of this that choosing the ‘right’ school is of such critical importance.

For some the idea of a large school is daunting, but one high school offers something different. Prince Albert Collegiate Institute might be small but the experiences offered to those who attend pay off big time.

For Alicia Wotherspoon, the school not only offered her an education but a place to grow as a professional.

“I love this school,” she said. “I went here for junior high and PACI was my top choice, as a teacher, for placement. I definitely wanted a smaller school setting and the focus on the arts added to its appeal, to be a part of that focus is certainly rewarding.”

Originally built more than a century ago, embracing heritage and infusing new beliefs, state of the art educational amenities and a modern curriculum, PACI provides students in Prince Albert a chance to learn and grow in a safe and friendly environment. PACI’s goal is for students to graduate on time and supporting students to meet this is what the school does well. The small school means more focused one on one time as well as a more bonded relationship between teacher and student. High expectations for appropriate, respectful behavior from students and staff alike ensures that the community within PACI’s walls is one of mutual respect with the common goal of meeting educational goals and outcomes. In addition to providing educational offerings like English, Math, Science and Social Science, PACI offers unique learning opportunities and is the only school in the city to provide a true designated dance studio and newly renovated music room with a recording studio.  Providing a strong literacy focus as well as arts based learning allows students the opportunity to not only grow academically but to also pursue their passions for the arts.

Wotherspoon, who is the school’s dance teacher, said teaching is about relationships and being in a smaller class allows for more one-on-one teaching opportunities.

“I know every single kid in this school,” she said. “Whereas if I was in a bigger school, sometimes you don’t even know the teachers because of the amount of teaching staff required for the sheer volume of students.”

For Wotherspoon, being smaller also means being closer to her colleagues, who she said were always available for support and guidance.

Grade 12 student Lacey Naytowhow described being at the school like being a part of a family. The 17-year-old, who plans to go to the University of Toronto in the fall, said when she first stepped through the doors of PACI, she originally wanted to be a nurse. It wasn’t until her final year that she decided to focus her attention on the study of language.

Although she attended PACI because of how close it was to her house, it was the relationships she made with other students and staff that made sure she stayed.

A big draw for Lacey was the art programs being offered at the school. She has taken everything from music to Wotherspoon’s dance classes.

“Art is something I really enjoy,” she said. “It’s really great here.”

Evonne Garnett, who teaches English as well as other subjects, has spent decades in the hallways at PACI. She said teaching at PACI allows her to make a difference in people’s lives as she is able to watch students grow and mature with the guidance of their teachers from the point of registration through to graduation.

Garnett echoed the same sentiments of Wotherspoon by saying the smaller school setting allows her to get to know her students better.

The connection between teacher and student is so strong, Garnett said she tears up at every graduation.

“You learn about their families, you may have taught their older sisters, brothers, you meet their parents at a variety of functions, you get to know them and see them in the community,” she said. “It gives you a holistic view of the kids. So, the student isn’t just a student, you really get to know who those kids are as people.”

Students of PACI have the opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities and programs of their choice. All high school sports are offered and PACI Golden Bears compete against other high schools in Prince Albert and area. Students don’t have to be the best to participate, they just have to contribute and be aware of the importance of their academics. This offers students an opportunity that they may not receive elsewhere.

The school also offers a fitness centre and after school cultural programs with a focus on dance and drumming.

High school is the time when students learn to think critically, analyze pros and cons, explore, identify their passions and learn to work independently. It is a time to learn how to advocate for themselves, and develop relationships with others.

PACI nurtures and promotes this atmosphere ensuring graduates get the best start possible for their life after school.

PACI… You belong here!

To arrange a school tour or receive more information call (306) 763-6485
Web site:
45 - 20th Street West Prince Albert, SK   S6V 4E9

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