First day a fresh start for St. Luke’s students

Education: Alternative school provides pupils’ options

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014 06:00 am

St. Luke’s Outreach School student Angela Walker gets ready for the first day of school next week as principal Leslie Woehleke, left corner, and vice-principal Niki Doyle look on.
St. Luke’s Outreach School student Angela Walker gets ready for the first day of school next week as principal Leslie Woehleke, left corner, and vice-principal Niki Doyle look on.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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Sure, St. Luke’s Outreach School is an alternative for students not wishing to go the traditional route. However, that doesn’t mean it can get away from the traditional mild madness which all schools face on that first day of school.

“The first day is kind of a frenzy,” said St. Luke’s principal Leslie Woehleke. “We don’t always no which students are coming back. It’s a great day, there can be some surprises. There are lots of students who we are still registering — we will have some walk-ons.

“We won’t have all the kids in their classes — we are never quite ready to go on that day.”

St. Luke’s like all schools, has its first day of school on Sept. 2. It is a school, which offers on-line and/or live classes for students who wanted a change from the traditional way of education. It has 200 students at four campuses, High River, Brooks, Strathmore and Okotoks. The Okotoks campus has approximately 100 students.

Patricia Smarda, 18, registered for classes at St. Luke’s in Okotoks in order to fit her full-time work schedule at a daycare in Calgary.

“It is just easy for my schedule,” Smarda said, who attended St. Luke’s for part of last school year. “When I came here last year it was very welcoming, when I was at a traditional school, it was still friendly, but I was more quiet. It just wasn’t for me.”

Woehleke said with some of the students not fitting at traditional schools, getting St. Luke’s students comfortable in those first few days is paramount.

“We try to make it a warm, comfortable place to be,” Woehleke said. “Some of these students are leaving what they know. They are leaving a setting which is very structured.

“We will have food on that first day and we will eat with them. It’s all part of making the students feel comfortable.”

She said some of the students have had behavioral problems or faced issues in the past, such as bullying, which led to them opting to St. Luke’s.

“We tell them it’s a fresh start,” Woehleke said. “Hopefully, we can help them overcome any of the obstacles that made them less successful than they could have been.”

Angela Walker, 19, was getting to register for classes on Monday. She was immediately greeted with a hug from St. Luke’s vice-principal Niki Doyle.

“I was nervous (the first day) at traditional schools because there were just too many kids,” she said. “There is no bullying here — it’s like we are all one family.”

She is on schedule to graduate this year, something a few years ago Walker didn’t think would happen.

“Not at all,” she said. “I’m just super excited about it.”

Smarda is also excited about hitting the books this year. The school will give her the chance to continue to get high marks and going to university without facing student loans rivaling the U.S. debt.

“I would be nervous going to a traditional school — I cannot not work full-time,” she said. “School is expensive and I am not looking forward to big student loans.

“This (St. Luke’s) will help it all workout.”


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