Alannah Clark knows how far $1,000 can go towards the cost of post-secondary tuition, but now her potential program at Capilano University might end up costing her that much more.
That’s because Clark was a recipient of a $1,000 Dogwood District/Authority Awards when she graduated from North Island Distance Education School (NIDES) in June, but it depended on one biology course which needed to be completed by the end of August.
“It was part of her grad plan,” explained Alannah’s mother Colleen Clark. “With NIDES being always open, it’s normal to work through the summer into July and August and the teachers being there to support the students.”
When Clark heard about potential impacts of the labour dispute on the school, she began investigating other options for her daughter for her to complete the course.
“We went online to register for distributed learning through an independent school and (Alannah) made an attempt to register, but it didn’t work,” added Clark, who suspects there may have been a glitch in the system due to an overwhelming amount of students attempting to register.
As a result, Alannah did not complete the course, and not long ago, received a call from a school counsellor at NIDES telling her the scholarship was being revoked.
“She was confused and I was really upset. Alannah was on the verge of tears. We are grateful for the opportunity and the teachers felt bad; they’ve done what they can to support her, but she’s disappointed,” noted Clark who added Alannah hopes to apply to the Jazz Studies program at Capilano in 2015. “I honestly thought it was a joke.”
Clark said she contacted School District 71, school trustees and the Ministry of Education, and was told because there was a fixed date with the scholarship, nothing can be done.
School District 71 superintendent Sherry Elwood said while she understands the frustration faced by both Alannah and her mother, she explained Alannah withdrew from NIDES in June with the goal to register in a self-designed program.
“We agreed to hold her transcript and the credits would be attached to us. She would have then been in a position to graduate through the summer and be eligible for the scholarship,” Elwood explained. “From June until the end of the job action, she was not a NIDES student; she was not a registered student.”
Elwood noted there were other designated learning schools Clark could have registered in, after the first application failed.
She said that upon completion of the course, Allanah will be eligible for the 2014/2015 school year, and will have the opportunity to reapply for the scholarship.
The school district is offering support financially for Clark to complete the course through North Island College, with which SD71 has an arrangement for a dual credit program.
“We’re offering to do what we can … this is a young woman we know and support and from our perspective, we didn’t get a chance to assist her, she withdrew in the middle of June.”
While Alannah is now working on completing the one course, Clark said the incident draws attention to the lack of support for distributed learning students across the province.
“Alannah was forced to go to an independent school. School District 71 could not serve Alannah or any student,” she noted.
“Distributed Learning is part of the B.C. government education plan, but it’s not supported by the government. Kids’ needs are not being met. The degree that Distributed Learning students were affected by the strike in the summer was huge — three months. Most kids at regular schools missed five weeks of school.”