Crunch time for students
Important exams now on

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 27/99) - More than 260 Grade 12 students from both local schools are in the midst of a crucial exam period.

Like their colleagues in Alberta, senior students from both Sir John Franklin and St. Patrick high schools are writing exams worth 50 per cent of their Grade 12 marks.

Universities and colleges see the marks as a crucial bell-wether for offers of admittance and possible scholarships for high school graduates going on to post-secondary studies next year.

"I haven't been out since New Year's Eve, I've been studying so much," St. Pat's Grade 12 student Jane McDermott said on Monday afternoon during a break from studying.

With plans to study drama next year at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria or Queen's University in Ontario, the stakes are high for McDermott, who must write chemistry and math exams.

"It keeps me up studying (and) I've been running on five hours sleep a night," she said.

Going into this week's exams, McDermott said she had her work cut out for her. Her internal course finals -- 76 per cent in chemistry and 84 per cent in math -- mean her work is cut out for her in achieving the necessary marks for scholarships in these competitive times.

"It puts more stress on me now (her departmental results) so that I can get a scholarship," she said.

Justine Farrow, 16, who is writing a math departmental exam, agrees.

"I'm feeling the pressure and I don't want to take the course again next year," she said.

Both students praise the efforts made by their teachers -- who also don't see the exams beforehand -- in order to prepare them for the big day.

"They're here all the time for us," Farrow said of her teachers.

The pair said teachers like chemistry's Craig MacKillop and math's Garth Brasseur have gone the extra mile in order to offer assistance -- both during school hours and in the evenings for group tutorial sessions -- to their students.

The exams -- the same standardized tests taken by Alberta's Grade 12 students -- are not marked in Yellowknife. They are sent to Alberta, meaning local students won't know how they did for a month or more.

Both Farrow and McDermott agree this should be speeded up.

"We've had a rough couple of weeks but it's all worth it in the end," McDermott said, surely summing up the feelings of a lot of young scholars around Yellowknife this week.