When Fort Frances High School’s Class of 2015 heads off to pursue their post-secondary education this fall, many of those students won’t be far apart.
Several have chosen to attend institutions close to home, such as Confederation College in Thunder Bay or the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
“The colleges and universities in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg do draw a lot of students from Fort Frances every year,” noted FFHS guidance counsellor Bill Fisher.
“Students tend to stay in their comfort zone by picking something that is a little closer to home,” he explained.
“There is nothing wrong with spending your first year in Thunder Bay or Winnipeg, and [then] in your second year move on to something a little farther away.”
Nic Dennis is one student who cited proximity as a factor when choosing a college.
He will be part of the “Aerospace Manufacturing and Engineering” program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, which can lead to a career designing and building airplanes.
“I like to be close to home,” Dennis remarked. “For me, it is only a three-hour drive.
“It’s not far at all.
“I could come home every weekend and spend time with my family,” he enthused.
Dennis noted he was accepted to Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie for mechanical engineering but decided against it, citing the high cost and distance as reasons for declining the offer.
Kayla Stang, meanwhile, will be enrolled in the nursing program at the University of Manitoba this fall.
“I liked the atmosphere and everyone there seemed to be really friendly,” she said, adding she had the chance to tour the campus and has family in the city.
“The nursing program there was more beneficial to what I wanted to do than at the University of Calgary,” Stang noted.
“I wanted to potentially become a doctor but in Calgary they don’t encourage you to become that,” she remarked.
“They prefer that their nurses stay as nurses.”
Stang’s nursing program is a four-year one, along with another four years of medical school if she wishes to become a doctor.
“It’s a long time but I’ll be able to work as a nurse while going to medical school,” she reasoned.
Then there are those students who have chosen to return to Fort High for a fifth year, otherwise known as a “victory lap.”
“I don’t think as many are staying back as we normally [see],” said Fisher.
He cited opportunities with schools trips, extra-curricular activities, and OFSAA as factors that most frequently influence a student’s decision to return for a fifth year.
“I don’t expect to see a large group of graduates returning next year,” Fisher noted, adding the school anticipates 10-15 students will return in the fall
“Most students are returning to take more courses,” he explained. “Some retake a course to improve their mark.
“[But] a lot of the students that return are strong to begin with [academically] and do well on their courses the first time around.”
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I wanted to play sports again,” reasoned Kevin Metke, a graduate who will return to Fort High this fall.
“I’ll take some courses I haven’t taken before and keep my options open,” he explained, adding he’s considering a career in architecture or engineering.
“I wanted to make sure I know what I want to do,” echoed Maxwell Williams.
I also didn’t want to rush into things.
“I want to do either forensics or something in that area,” he noted.
When Williams returns to Fort High, he plans on taking a co-op to get an idea if the field is something he wants to pursue.
But still other graduates plan on venturing further from home for their post-secondary education.
“I’m going to the Canadian Mennonite University and studying humanitarianism while traveling the country in different places and different reserves and then in South Africa,” enthused Liz Allan.
“We actually don’t even start on campus,” she added. “We start at a river in Manitoba somewhere.”
The year will begin with a canoe trip into Ontario, along with visits in locations such as B.C. and Alberta.
“The teachers travel with us,” Allan explained.
“We will travel during the day and at night we’ll be in classes.”
Allan said she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for a career, and felt it was a way to reach out to people while still earning credits.
“CMU is connected to [the] University of Manitoba so after that, I can go to U. of M. and all my courses are transferable,” she noted.
Although at first glance it appears he’ll travel far for school, Mitchell Argue actually is heading back home to attend the University of Regina to pursue a business degree.
“I like the idea of businesses. My family owns businesses and I’m interested in getting involved in the industry,” said Argue, who moved here with his family in February from Balgonie, Sask.
“The first two years is general business,” he noted. “Then you get into more specifics, like accounting and entrepreneurship or different sides of business.
“I would like if it led to me owning a business,” Argue enthused.
“Across Canada, we have had students attend college and university on the west coast and the east coast,” noted Fisher.
“We did have a student who graduated and took some courses in Europe at a university, but ultimately returned to Ontario to finish their degree,” he recalled.
Editor’s note: The Fort Frances Times is proud to see both our co-op students this school year—Kiera Kowalski and Cameron Penney—have decided to attend Carleton University in Ottawa (my own alma mater) this fall to pursue journalism careers.
We wish them both all the best.