LLC students reach for new heights with bursary support


Near North School Board officials boast about this year’s student success stories at Laurentian Learning Center (LLC).

The smaller alternative education school operated by Near North District School Board (NNDSB) in North Bay serves students for whom a larger secondary school is not a good fit.

Recently, three LLC students were recognized for their achievements and received support for their post-secondary goals in the form of bursaries from NNDSB and the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.

Bursary recipients Brittany Richer, Bridgette Middlebrook and Levi Mercier are all prime examples of how the LLC approach can help propel students towards their future goals.

“I wasn’t doing the greatest in the bigger high schools, so I came here to get more help. Mr. Kidd with the co-op program helped me out a lot. He got me a job with a mechanic shop. From there I’ve been doing pretty good,” said Levi Mercier, a recipient of one of NNDSB’s new Skilled Trades Bursaries, sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Mercier said the smaller class sizes allow teachers to spend more time on what students need to help them progress.

Scottish Rite of Freemasonry bursary recipient Brittany Richer says she feels uncomfortable and finds it difficult to concentrate in larger classrooms with many students.

“I learn things a little bit slower. Having more one-on-one time is so helpful for me,” said Richer. “I feel I’m on the path to achieving my goals because of my experience at LLC,” Richer added.

LLC vice-principal Sarah Spence said there are many success stories at the school. Each student has a different definition of success, whether it be regular attendance, earning credits, gaining employment or graduation.

“Some students may not even realize that they want to be in our school until they give it a chance. Once they feel the atmosphere, they settle in. We are a safe, supportive, structured environment meeting so many more needs than just education, Spence said.

“The school provides an engaging environment where students can feel safe.”

Spence said LLC staff take the time to get to know their students which helps to identify their particular path to success. This in turn allows for the creation of a specific pathway that works for each student.

Skilled Trades bursary recipient Bridgette Middlebrook will graduate from LLC this year, has already started studying at Canadore College, and is more than a year into her apprenticeship at Goldfleet Subaru.

“I found it was a lot easier to get into the trades and get into it faster with more hands-on than a normal high school,” Middlebrook said. “I think it would have been more difficult with more challenges along the way without the LLC.”

Mercier is apprenticing at Trout Lake Auto and is enrolled at Canadore College in the fall. Richer is pursuing her goal of becoming a certified personal support worker.

Spence believes the small school environment is an asset to the students of LLC.

“Students may have one instructional teacher but will connect with staff and administrators of the school who will be there to support students not only academically, but physically and mentally as well.”

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