Post secondary potential for town

Okotoks: new opportunities being introduced

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 04:13 pm

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Okotoks is getting more opportunities for post-secondary education classes in the community, including first year Mount Royal University classes, dual credit courses for high school students, and possibly even a new facility.

The Post Secondary Education Ad Hoc Committee presented its plan to Okotoks Town Council on May 26 and announced that MRU classes will be offered at the Bow Valley College Okotoks campus on Elizabeth Street starting in January 2015What post secondary options are currently available in town and when did the BVC campus open?. .

Committee member John Lockhart said it’s important to continue bringing post secondary opportunities to Okotoks for the good of both students and the community.

“You can have a work force trained and live locally and have employers come flocking in,” he said of the committee’s vision. “A lot of kids move away from here and after a year they still don’t know what they want to do. At least they can come to those decisions when they’re still living at home.”

The courses offered will be first year psychology and sociology courses which councillor Matt Rockley, who used to be on the committee, thought were a great opportunity for students who need some time to adjust.

“Those are classes that almost any first year student would be looking at, so that’s great news,” he said. “They can still live at home take a couple of classes to see how it is in terms of course work to help make that decision whether they want to continue.”

The education committee also said they were working on introducing dual-credit courses for high school students, and that both Christ the Redeemer and Foothills School Division had expressed interest.

Christ the Redeemer committee representative Arlene Frederick said the courses, which would count as both a high school and post secondary credit, would be greatly beneficial to their students.

“You need a certain number of high school credits to graduate and if you can take courses that are going to provide credits towards a diploma or a degree somewhere along the way, what a great opportunity,” she said.

The provincial government announced last month that they would be putting $11 million into funding for dual-credit opportunities, and Frederick said she’s happy the government sees the advantages that the program can provide students.

“There could be some really ambitious students who want to get a jump start on their careers,” she said. “Some students know well in advance what direction they would like to go and this gives them the opportunity to start earlier.”

With additional post secondary options on their way, the committee is also looking at creating a multi purpose facility in the community that would see Bow Valley College relocate, as well as potentially housing a library, gymnasium, and the proposed performing arts centre.

“The public library has outgrown its space, and the arts culture and the theatre groups – all of these things are looking for a facility,” Lockhart said. “We can look at finding a piece of land for one thing and then finding another piece of land where they can put something else, or what they can look at is building a complete post secondary educational cultural location where we can everything and grow with the community.”

Lockhart said the committee’s plans look at long-term growth for Okotoks, which includes a potential population of 85,000.

Councillor Ray Watrin, who is the chair of the committee, said he’s excited about the future opportunities.

“Having been an educator, I’m passionate about the vision for our young children in the lifelong future,” he said. “I think the vision for Okotoks as it grows is going to be great. I was really impressed with everyone on the committee. Their vision is a big vision.”


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