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Teens skip out

Philippe Morin
Northern News Services

Paulatuk (Dec 11/06) - Up to three quarters of secondary students at Paulatuk's Angik school are regularly skipping class, said principal Russ Hancock.

Instead, they are staying at home, having parties, or even working jobs during class hours.

"It's a major, major problem," he said. "Some are not showing up at all."

Hancock said Angik School has 33 students registered in the secondary-school grades.

Of these students, he said, it is common that 10 or less will come to class on any given day.

"Even when they do show up, many are overtired. They haven't slept well. They seem to stay up late or don't go to sleep at all," he said.

According to attendance records - which Hancock supplied to News/North with the students' names removed - 18 of the school's 33 high-schoolers have already missed more than two full weeks of class.

And while the record for truancy is 48 days missed by one student this year, there are also students who have missed 36, 30, 29, 27, 26 and 24 days of class since August.

Ruby Ruben, who works at Angik school as District Education Authority (DEA) secretary treasurer, agreed the students' record was troubling.

"Attendance is a concern because education is important. We need to get that across to students," she said.

In an effort to boost attendance, Ruben said the school has created a new position called the Community School Counsellor.

Ruben said she'll be the first person to take this job, which will be part-time and within the school.

She said it will consist of speaking to parents and students about their problems, with a goal of boosting attendance and achievement.

The position will be funded by the District Education Authority for the first year, but long-term funding has yet to be determined, Ruben said.

"It's fortunate the DEA had some funding we could access," she said.

Hancock said he hopes students will realize the value of education, and fulfill their increasingly-common promises to catch up lost courses or semesters later.

"This is not something that's going to be solved by myself. This is a community problem," he said.