I am writing this letter today with a heavy heart. I recently learned of a possible amalgamation of the administration between the Stettler Outreach School and William E. Hay Composite High School.
The Outreach School and Roe Desrosiers specifically are a big part of my family’s life. My Dad, Larry Ambury, was the principal of the Stettler Junior High School when he hired Mr. Desrosiers. He was so excited when he hired this new teacher. I remember this because he made a point of telling us about this man; he felt there was something very “special” about him.
Over the years, Roe proved to be an excellent asset to our school system and Larry was proud. Roe represented Larry’s belief that all students are valuable. The students that struggled due to adverse situations in their environment were “special and unique” to Larry and, of course, to Roe. There was untapped potential — they fulfilled an important part in their hearts.
One has to be a special, certain someone to run the Outreach School. You have to have the respect of the students, you have to really care about all of the students, you have to have heart, you have to guide them, and you have to catch them when they fall, you have to listen to them and you have to be available 24/7 for them.
If the power shifts back to the administration of the high school, we as a community have lost all that makes the Outreach succeed. The high school administration does not have the time or the special people that make the Outreach work. These students might not excel at athletics or arguably academics (I say arguably because I have seen first hand that many of the Outreach students do excel in academics once they are in the environment provided by attending the Outreach School).
The high school does not have the time nor the exceptional, unique administration to help these students achieve a better life for themselves, to help with their self-worth and self-esteem, to see them graduate and become productive adults. The Outreach has to have the leniency of their own unique policies, etc., to really make it work.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking to several Outreach students and I will tell you with certainty that they left the high school for certain reasons and they succeed at the Outreach for certain reasons. If they eventually get forced back into the mainstream, where policies are set for the mainstream, their chances for a better life will for certain decrease.
The Outreach must remain a separate entity for the system to work and keep improving as it has over the last several years that Mr. Desrosiers and his amazing staff have operated the school. They have poured their blood, sweat and tears to build it up to where it is now; while continuously having to justify their existence.
I have been to many of the Outreach graduations, as our family sponsors the Larry Ambury Jumpstart Award for students who have achieved success in whatever form. One common denominator at these graduations has been the praise of both the school superintendent and the Clearview school board of the Outreach and its staff. To paraphrase, it was said by the some of the school board members that it was one of the graduations they enjoy the most because of what and who it represents.
Another point I would like to make is other schools in Clearview are facing declining enrolment. The Stettler Outreach enrolment has been steadily increasing over the past few years. This should not be taken lightly — it’s a great indication of what a special school and staff we have.
My daughter decided to attend Outreach for her 12th year of school. The first thing we noticed within the first week was how happy she finally was; it took such a huge burden off of our shoulders. She will tell you that she felt loved, safe, warm and happy. The staff is amazing — she loves each and every one of them. She became so confident during her time there and she also became a leader! She plans on attending post-secondary schooling next year and this would not have happened if she did not have the Outreach School and staff in her life.
As well, some might think the diversity of the students could seem to be a challenge. It’s just the opposite. All of these kids and adults, no matter what walk of life they came from (and there are many) support each other.
They learn from each other and are accepting of all. They will be better citizens specifically because of this.
The thing that intrigues me is this not what all schools should strive for. A lesson certainly can be learned from this school, staff and amazing students.
The Outreach provides a very nurturing atmosphere that works. Eventually, if these schools slowly become one, in policy, etc., you will have more dropouts — and a lot of very devastated parents and community alike.