How good is Fredericton High School?
By Chris S.
As you have probably noticed, you are likely to meet many different people from different places all around the world, when you walk around a city. Many of those people might be visitors as well as immigrants. As I walk through Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick, which is located in the east of Canada, close to the Pacific Ocean, I see many different people: Asian people, African people, European people, and American people. As I continue to walk, I see Chinese restaurants, German bakeries, and other shops, that have owners from foreign places. You might think: They must like it here, otherwise they would not stay. But it is the young people, the students, that matter. They will be the ones one day that will be part of the system you live in. They may become workers, or employees, but in anyway, they will build the future. But to keep them, you should ask yourself: Do they even like it here, and do they like our schools.
Santi Ram Kuikel and his family moved to Canada four years ago from Nepal. His daily routine consists of arriving at school at 8:20am, the first thing he does is to go to his locker and grab the material for the first four periods. Then he goes to period one and two, and afterwards to homeroom period. While this period lasts, he does his homework and watches the announcements. Then he goes on the period four, and finally he has one-hour lunch break. In this time he hangs with his friends and enjoys the sport activities. “I really enjoy the variety of clubs and activities this school offers, I wish I had more time to do them all,” said Santi Ram.
Just before lunch is over, he goes to his locker again and picks up the necessary equipment for the last two periods. After periods five and six are over, he waits for his bus to come and then finally gets home at around 4pm. “I really like school here, but it was hard in the beginning to learn English,” said Santi Ram, “but once you get used to it, it is okay.”
For many immigrants, it is hard to learn and speak English in the beginning. But Fredericton High School offers programs that help international students to speak English and get familiar with the school system. The High School also offers clubs like the Spanish or Multicultural club that helps international students to meet new people and exchange experience, but they also play games and have activities.
FHS is a High School at the south side of Fredericton. The school is 226 years old and has now 1925 Students, including 430 international students from 40 different countries. According to http://www1.frederictonhigh.nbed.nb.ca/general_info/HISTORY.HTM, FHS is the oldest English High School in Canada. After Fredericton was laid out in the mid-1700’s, the school was one of the first buildings built. In the 1800’s the school was known as the “College of New Brunswick”. After King’s College was opened, FHS was renamed in “Collegiate Grammar School”, under the management of King’s College. After the ‘Free School Act’ came into force, the Collegiate Grammar School became “Collegiate High School” and was a preparatory school for the University of New Brunswick. After the Free School Act, even girls were able to go to this school and the first women teacher was accepted. The High School was located at the corner of George and Regent Street in the 1900’s, nowadays this building is known as “George Street Middle School”. In 1969 the High School had to be moved to its nowadays location at Prospect Street, due to expansion.
Traditionally the Canadian National Hymn is played every morning throughout the whole building.
But is this offensive to the international students since their Hymn is not played? The principle of FHS, Shane Thomas said:” It is part of Canadian culture, and it is mandated to be played once a day.”
One program that FHS offers is the “English as an Additional Language” program, it helps students to learn English and to understand the way of teaching. At FHS, Mrs. Doucette teaches this course, students learn grammar, writing, speaking and reading comprehension, as well as viewing comprehension. The course also helps to integrate the students into the school’s system. “Most students make huge progress over time,” Mrs. Doucette said. But she also said that some students that arrive at FHS hardly speak any English at all, so they have a much harder start, but makes it more clear to see how their language skills improved after a bit of time. To have students settle here is a mandate to Mrs. Doucette. She really enjoys working with the foreign students and the students like her. “The EAL program really helped me to learn English and to get to know the school,” said Milan Adhikari. He likes to meet new people and also enjoys the sports offers at lunchtime. Most students that are new to FHS from a different country like the school. Josh Lhatina moved from the Philippines, and he likes FHS, especially the size and the variety of courses offered. But for students that recently came to Canada, everything is new and strange. Keyhan Afzalian who came to Canada just a few months ago, does not really know whether the new school is better than the old one. He feels like FHS is as good as his old school, because “In this school some things are better and some things are worse, in my old school some things were better, and some things were worse too.”
And that is a true and wise statement, there is always two sides to everything, nothing is perfectly good or bad, but goodness or badness is determined by the weight of each side. So for Keyhan FHS is definitely a new experience, but he tries to make the best out of it.
So international students really get help and support at FHS, but how do they get along with teachers? Well, there is of course quite a bit of misunderstanding. Teachers punish students even though the student meant to say something else, but it just came out like it was rude. Or sometimes they cannot participate because students did not come in the day before to do their work because they thought it was okay to come in the next day. The principle from FHS also has an answer to this question, Shane Thomas said that teachers do not need to treat international students different than Canadian ones. Even if their actions seem to be strict, they are there to get students ready for University. But it could also be racism that comes through. “The survey results from two years ago showed than less than ten percent of the students feel bothered by racism,” said Shane Thomas. But of course there will always be racism and the staff of FHS has to rely on the students about that part. But there is of course no support for racism, instead there is anti-bullying campaigns that include anti-racist actions.
Police Officer Jan Smith confirmed this. She also said that the crime rate at FHS is very low, due to the immediate suspension of anyone who makes big trouble. But still crimes happen once in a while, so which ethical group is most likely to commit crimes? “It makes no difference if you are from another country or Canadian, it depends on your social environment,” said Officer Smith. But to her it seems as if more Canadians go to the police to report a crime than foreign people do, this is because the foreign people are unfamiliar with the Canadian police and justice system, which kind of scares them.
So overall, Fredericton High School is a safe and good place for international students. FHS tries its best to get the foreign students a good start and a safe, friendly, and supportive environment. Activities to be part in and make new friends are given, so it is on the students themselves if they accept the offer or reject it.