When 11 graduates from DSBN Academy venture into Brock University classrooms this fall, they will do so with a strong sense of familiarity.
The University has been working closely with the Grade 6 to Grade 12 school for years, fostering a relationship with the young students and providing them with an early introduction to post-secondary life.
DSBN Academy, which opened its doors in 2010 with two Grade 6 and three Grade 7 classes, held its inaugural Grade 12 graduation on June 28 in Brock’s Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.
The school was created to empower and support students on the path to becoming the first in their family to graduate from a post-secondary institution. Each of the 45 students who received their high school diploma at the recent ceremony accepted an offer from a college or university.
“Brock University has been an outstanding partner for our school,” said DSBN Academy Guidance Counsellor Monika Pries-Klassen. Faculty and staff from a number of departments have collaborated with the academy to provide students with enrichment throughout their schooling, she said.
Because of that connection, Pries-Klassen said students “know what a lecture sounds and feels like, they have stayed in a dorm and eaten residence food, they know their way around campus as well as their own backyards, and they feel prepared for their university experience.”
In addition to welcoming students on campus for various workshops, classroom visits and overnight stays in residence, Brock has provided support for DSBN Academy’s after-school club program and has begun researching the school’s key strategies. Sessions have also been hosted by Brock staff to inform students about aspects of time management, financial responsibility and the process of applying to university.
“Brock personnel have been incredibly flexible and responsive with requests from our school to engage our first-generation students,” Pries-Klassen said.
The bond that has formed between the two schools has prompted more than half of the DSBN Academy graduates who are headed to university in the fall to choose Brock.
Child and Youth Studies Course Co-ordinator Ellen Carter said it has been a privilege working with the young students and watching them progress over time.
“It’s so nice to see the students have reached their goal and been accepted to post-secondary schools,” she said.
Community engagement is important to Brock, Carter said. “That becomes more and more apparent as the years go on,” she said. “The University is an important part of the community and wants to play an active role.”
The partnership between the two institutions is expected to continue well into the future.
The Brock Leaders Citizenship Society hosts an annual gala — Denim, Diamonds and Diplomas — to raise money for bursaries in support of DSBN Academy graduates. More than $42,000 has been raised in the past two years.
Twenty bursaries were presented for the first time during the June graduation, 11 of which went to future Brock students.