No more sneaking in to Philemon Wright High in Gatineau, Que


by Trevor Greenway on September 30, 2009

Buzz: “Um, it’s Jeremy, I’m late again. Can you buzz me in?”

Students at Philemon Wright High School in Gatineau, Quebec will no longer be able to sneak into class late, as a new security system keeps all the doors locked when school is in session.

“Kids who arrive late might get stuck outside and may have to be buzzed in,” said Principal Terry Kharyati, who has been principal at both Philemon Wright and Hadley Junior High School for the past four years.

“They will get buzzed right into detention.”

Kharyati added that the new security system, which also features cameras and swipe cards for certain departments in the building has led to less weekend vandalism and has cut down on students skipping classes as well.

“In terms of people leaving and entering the school without permission, that is down as well,” said Kharyati.

“The kids understand it, but they don’t love it. It will take some time to get adjusted.”

Along with the new security system, Philemon Wright High School is also on the verge of opening two “state-of-the-art” science labs, which should be ready for use by November.

All services for both Philemon Wright High School and Hadley Junior High School, which are in the same building, have been localized, meaning that all administrative services for both schools are in the same spot. This gave both schools more room to offer more student services like academic help, medical attention and counselling services in a centralized, known location.

“Now, if a kid has a problem, they will know where to go,” said Kharyati.

This year, there are currently about 745 students enrolled at Philemon Wright and 445 enrolled in Hadley, a number that is about the same as last year, said Kharyati.

D’Arcy McGee High School, also in Gatineau has some new programs available that are gaining popularity this school year.

The School’s 16 Plus program allows for students in Grades 9-11 to go on three, six-week work terms in a field that interests them. The program is a two-year program that helps students to build portfolios for entering the work force while still receiving instruction in math, French as a second language and English, among other subjects.

D’Arcy McGee also has an Alternative program for students who are academically capable, but have not had great success in a typical classroom setting. The Alternative program boasts smaller class sizes and more one-on-one instruction to aid the students in receiving the credits they need to graduate. D’Arcy McGee Principal George Singfield, who is also the principal at Symmes Junior High, which is in the same building, said the Alternative program is essential, as it gives students, who may have been considering dropping out, another option to finish high school.

Currently there are 672 students enrolled at D’Arcy and 428 students registered at Symmes, a number that is similar to last year, said Singfield.