Turning on the Lights: A Senior in MANS’ Largest-Ever Graduating Class Looks Forward to College
Graeme Nepoose didn’t always look forward to going to school. At his old high school, Graeme wasn’t rolling up his sleeves and raring to learn a new skill in a CTS/industrial arts class nor was he at the centre of good-natured razing with his peers. He for sure wasn’t captain of a basketball intermural team, as he is at MANS. In fact, before Graeme came to MANS part way through his Grade 10 year, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be in school at all.
Graeme’s dad read the danger signs and met with Principal Mike Willing. Graeme’s father liked what he saw, and Graeme liked the design and architecture of the new high school—so different from the plain box style of the school he’d been in—especially the colourful palate and big windows that lent a very different feel to the place. The fact that MANS was just 10 minutes from the family farm was a bonus, and the opportunity to develop new skills at the Leon Ingraham Industrial Arts/CTS Centre cinched the deal.
Mike, himself a country-raised jack of many trades, was immediately impressed by Graeme’s instinctive skills in his introductory construction class. Graeme was quick and eager to try his hand at anything requiring manual skill and analysis. He excelled in construction and thought he might do that forever—until he enrolled in welding. And mechanics. MANS’ first auto mechanics class, which Graeme took before Christmas (recently equipped mostly by the estate gift of Dave and Wanetta Trenchuk) confirmed mechanics as Graeme’s first love.
Though social studies is Graeme’s all-time favorite class—he especially enjoys sharing the history of his nation and culture in class discussions—he sees his future in mechanics and possibly welding. Graeme knew from experience that the school culture at MANS was not a given elsewhere. Where would he find trade education with, at least, a rural setting?
Vice Principal Kim Herrington was tuned into the struggle Graeme and other members of his class were having as they looked forward to graduation. She knew that without seeing other possibilities, the default of many would be to take a “gap year” in Edmonton or to stay home—a year that often stretches out indefinitely. Several members of the 2023 class were skilled in and looking toward the trades, so Kim arranged a trip to Northern Lights College, a school in Dawson Creek, BC with a strong trades program and a rural setting.
It was a perfect match for Graeme, who values the natural setting he grew up in, and emphatically says he looks forward to “going to school NOT in Edmonton.” His classmates Jane, Phoenix and Danille plan to join him as part of a MANS contingent at Northern Lights College this fall—a continuing adventure in education, with Graeme, the towering youth who went from near dropout to higher education leader, inspiring his friends by example.
I think my life would be very different if I'd gone to public school.
Krista started her academic career at MANS' stimulating Grade 1 classroom, when her father, who drove a school bus in Maskwacis, recognized there was something different at MANS. For the next 12 years, Krista was an integral part of school life, and she graduated as part of the class of 2017, recognized by Maskwacis as a Youth Role Model.
Krista's always been a hard-working, adventurous spirit. While in high school, she created and sold beautiful beadwork earrings and medallions, tasted sea water and crossed the Rockies with her classmates on the way to Port Hardy, BC, and dreamed of a bright future—all while holding down an after school job as supervisor at Pizza Hut.
Looking back, Krista is proud of how she juggled academics and increasing responsibility at her work. Krista's positive experience with her teachers made a big impression on her. "All the teachers I had since Grade 1 were really good," says the entrepreneur who’s applied all her customer and business acumen to her own business—Luxury Auto Detailing, located at 4005-50 Ave., Ponoka.
“Mr. Willing always told me I could do whatever I put my mind to,” recalls Krista. “All the teachers helped me gain confidence. Even when I was thinking about starting a beadwork business while I was in high school, they were very supportive.
“MANS made me very confident.”