students graduated from Oskayak High School in Saskatoon on Friday,
the largest-ever graduating class in the institution's 30-year history.
Community members said it marked a powerful
moment for the high school, which has a focus on aboriginal culture.
"Our school is culturally based.
We teach spirituality, culture, language, and I think that really
attracts the young people that want to know who they are and where
they come from," said school elder Mary Lee, who has been around
since Oskayak's beginning.
Lee said the huge increase in the number
of graduates last year the school handed out only three diplomas
is an affirmation that teachers and administrators have figured
out how to get it right.
A big change for the just-ended academic
year is technology, with laptops and smartboards now in almost every
Student Jordan Saulteaux, who dropped
out of school but decided to come back years later and finish his
studies, said those features, plus Oskayak's focus on aboriginal
culture, are exactly what he needed.
"Things like that keep students really
motivated to keep coming, and it keeps school fun and you learn
at the same time," Saulteaux said. "They supported me
a lot. I know for sure without the extra stuff that they had here,
I probably wouldn't have finished."