Courtesy - Thomas Swiderski Students showcase their school

Verdun’s Beurling Academy is considered to be a red zone school, where there is a high concentration of at-risk youth. To help keep the kids in school, it has introduced many resources. Their Open House on October 5 showcased these efforts.

Whenever a school is presenting itself, everyone is often on the best of behavior and there is a sense of rehearsed perfection. Beurling had no such pretense. As Principal Alix Adrien walked the halls, he was greeted warmly by students, teachers and parents.

« If you can connect with the students, you feel energized. They are my motivation and they sense it. It is all about the connection, » he says.

Beurling uses every means at their disposal, from government support to community partnerships to create bonds. Starting with the basics, Share the Warmth and Mazon associations supply food to the school’s Richie’s Lunch Café, ensuring that every student has a healthy meal to confront the growing issue of food insecurity.

The New Approaches, New Solutions intervention model is offered to schools in low socio-economic areas and supports a more personal approach for at-risk students. The school also gets additional resources to ensure « success for all ».

Uniting with the YMCA, Beurling opened the first in-school Teen Zone. Activities and support are in place to keep young minds and idle hands occupied. For the past year, it has already reaped benefits for the students, especially those from a local group home who utilize the Zone as a safe haven to hang out in.

Options Abound

Beurling is aware that not all students will be academically inclined and puts a strong emphasis on other options.

Inspired by the plumbing institution it shares its building with, the school has brought back vocational options. A need for benches started the wood-working club that has now become an option for the senior Cycle.  A Home Economics course has been re-introduced to teach life skills, and arts options bring out creativity including Music, Drama, Set Design, Dance and Visual Art.

Principal Adrien is driven by the need to offer all students, not only the at-risk ones, a vibrant school where anything can be experienced. « By exposing them to many things, perhaps they can find their niche. Our school motto is ‘Believe and Succeed’, and we engage every student to be challenged to their full potential. »

Beurling keeps on evolving to offer students every opportunity to better themselves. Recently, they became a pilot school for the DELF program, where graduates receive a recognized diploma for French studies. The hope is that more English school graduates will be fluent in French and open more doors to work, live and thrive within any Quebec community.

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