Top marks
St. Patrick high school gets rave reviews

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 30/97) - Students and teachers at St. Patrick high school are giving themselves a pat on the back after a review team gave the school a passing grade.

The operations review, done by internal and external teams, was the first-ever evaluation of the school in its three-year history.

Kern Von Hagen said the purpose of the review was to identify the areas that need improvement.

"We wanted to make sure it was a healthy exercise and a rigorous one to see what we had to do," he said.

The evaluation process began with an internal look at the school by educators and students that has been turned into a 300-page document.

The independent, external review, headed by education consultant M.S. Naidoo, consisted of nine volunteer educators from the NWT and Alberta and former students of St. Pat's.

The role of the external review was, among other things, to validate the internal review through a three-day visit at the school Feb. 26 to 28.

While the major findings of the external review consisted of commendations and not recommendations, Von Hagen cautioned that the external team's visit to the school is merely a snippet into the goings-on of the school.

"That was just a snapshot," he said. "We tried to provide the album."

He referred to the "school portfolio," which details student performance in courses, as well as student and parent surveys that revealed a high rate of satisfaction with what the facility offers.

For example, 100 per cent of the students at the school reported they are happy with what it provides for them.

Von Hagen also said that the new school itself is not the reason for the glowing report, maintaining that strong leadership should take the credit.

Naidoo agreed. "I think they would have done just as good in the old school," he said. "I would not make the building the issue -- it's leadership at all different levels."

While he couldn't grade the school on a scale of one to 10, Naidoo puts St. Patrick high school on the top of more than 60 schools he's visited in the NWT, Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Even so, Naidoo's report details more than 50 areas -- ranging from the general to the specific -- that the school could improve.

"It would be foolish for us to think that there's no reason to improve," said Loretta Foley, superintendent of the Catholic board. "The biggest room in any house is the room for improvement."