Monday, June 6th was Awards Day at Sakku school here in Coral Harbour. This is the day were at least five awards are given in each grade (there may have been a sixth one, but I was a little distracted since I was sitting at the back with 2 little boys crawling all over my lap :o). Anyways, the awards that I noticed were the Inuktitut Award, English Award, Artistic Award, the Student Citizenship Award and the Excellent Attendance Excellence Award.
Benjamin came home with 2 awards today, the English and the Excellent Attendance awards for his kindergarten class. My understanding of the Inuktituk and the English awards is how well the student learned what was to learn in that language. And since they are learning both languages at the same time, it's appropriate that there be two awards. I'm so proud, so so proud of Benjamin for winning these awards, but I have to admit, I was a little surprised. Not because I don't think he deserves them, he totally does. He's a sharp little cookie and he has parents that MAKE him go to school everyday :o). I am surprised because Benjamin was only in his kindergarten class here in Coral Harbour for 4 months this year! January, February, March and April since we left May 3rd for the last month of the school year*. I am grateful on the one hand that Benjamin's accomplishments were recognized and that there is an understanding by the teacher of the RCMP life. But on the other hand, should a local child whose been there all year have won instead? This is yet another example how blessed we are to be in a place that accepts RCMP and their families.
I have to hand it to the organizers (school teachers, school board leaders?) because they really do recognize good effort, hard work and academic accomplishment. At this assembly, not only were the students recognized but the parents were too. The parent(s) of every child having received an award received a beautiful box of quality chocolates from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (approx. $20 value!) as a way to thank them for encouraging children to go to school. Because let's face it, unless a child is encouraged and guided by a parent, they will not show up at school on their own. The three students in the older grades (grades 4, 5, 6) not only received a beautiful plaque, but also a brand new bicycle as a prize for the Attendance Excellence Award!!! How awesome is that?
Passing a grade and awards are big here (at least for the kids). Different kids keep asking me if Benjamin passed his grade or if he won awards and they are all impressed when I tell them that he has! The BIG questions is "Did you pass?" How sad is that? Not many make it to High School and far less graduate. As quoted in the Reader's Digest article from January 2011 titled Northern Elite, "seven our of ten Nunavut teens don't finish high school, giving the territory the lowest graduation rate in the country". The saddest part is that it's very difficult to know how to help these youngsters. Us, "Southerners", try to show them and teach them a better way but it's very much an uphill-grease-slicked battle. I lift my hat to all the teachers here. They are some of my heros. Speaking of recognition, they (as most teachers, but especially here) do not get the recognition they deserve for all their efforts and time spent for the kids here.
Having said all of this I am struggling with what to do with Benjamin next year (grade 1). I realize that although he learns very quickly, he is already mildly behind his southern counterparts (especially those in Ontario where they've been going to school since the age of 4) even though we were working with him at home. Obviously I need more direction and guidelines to follow to keep him up to speed and need to talk with my teacher friends and sister-in-law more often. Right now Plan #1 is to keep him in school full time in grade 1(and catch up on weekends, vacations and summer), Plan #2 is to send him to school in the am and homeschool in the afternoon and there is a pie-in-the-sky Plan #3 that I will keep you posted on as it develops... We'll see. For now I am working with Benjamin daily on his reading skills, arithmetic and fine motor skills. Not always an easy task.
* On a side note school here ends at the beginning of June but starts again Mid-August. Benjamin missed his kindergarten graduation by a number of hours since we flew back home that day - I had been told previously that it was going to be May 31st, otherwise we would have come back one day sooner!