Sunday, June 23, 2024
June 23, 2024

GISS posts record graduation rate

Gulf Islands schools reported the highest grad numbers ever, according to administrators, with 100 per cent of B.C. resident students crossing the stage last year — for the first time in island history. 

School officials and the Ministry of Education track what’s known as the six-year completion rate, which measures the success of three distinct cohorts of students — B.C. residents, Indigenous students, and students with diverse abilities — from the first time they enroll in Grade 8 to the time they leave school. “Completion” means they earned a certificate of graduation (or adult diploma) within six years of that enrollment.  

And this fall, metrics for all three cohorts were far above provincial averages, landing at record-high levels for the Gulf Islands School District (SD64) — 100, 96 and 94 per cent respectively. The numbers were reported — and indeed, celebrated — during the Board of Education’s meeting Wednesday, Jan. 10.  

“We are in the company of two districts with this result this year,” said superintendent Scott Benwell. “And this isn’t based on just getting kids through, this is based on an extraordinary amount of hard work by dedicated educators.  

“It’s not everything we do, but it’s the outcome of everything we do,” he continued. “With gratitude for all of the people of SD64 that have worked alongside students, the families that have invested, the students themselves that take work home, attend to their studies — all dedicated to that outcome.” 

Trustee Deborah Luporini acknowledged the occasion as exceedingly rare, and delightful. 

“It happens because the parents supported their kids, the programs were made available, the principals supervised what they needed to and supported all the instructional practice, and the teachers sat down . . .” Luporini paused, recomposing herself amidst the emotion of the moment. “Sat down with a kid who said, ‘I don’t get it.’ And they got through it with them. It’s just incredible.” 

Benwell, who was marking his last meeting as superintendent since starting the position in January 2019, recounted a moment he has referenced during previous completion reports, when  former trustee Shelley Lawson acknowledged what was then a record-high number — after which, Benwell said, she asked, “Mr. Superintendent, why is it not 100 per cent?” 

“I, and we, took that to heart,” said Benwell. “If you see a teacher, thank them.” 

Turning in her seat, board chair Tisha Boulter smiled broadly and aimed her phone at the completion graph projected on the wall.  

“I took a picture,” she said. “I’m going to text it to her. ‘Shelley, guess what it is!?’” 

To view SD64 completion rates and other metrics, visit

SD64 reported a headcount enrolment of 1,508 students (1515.75 FTE) on this year’s Sept. 30 funding report to the ministry. Based on the ministry’s adjusted design capacity numbers, according to the district, there is currently room for 45 more students in SD64 Salt Spring Island elementary schools. 

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