Urban Aboriginal School was exactly the right place for this student

personal journey through school which led to graduation from the Urban Aboriginal School. She is pictured with Vice Principal Rony Dal Cin, teachers Crystal Kingston (from Indian Friendship Centre) and Fred Pelletier.

Rony Dal Cin is the Vice Principal at Algoma District School Board’s Urban Aboriginal School. It was with great pride that he, teacher Fred Pelletier and Indian Friendship Centre’s Crystal Kingston attended the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday November 10th to help introduce a student from the program.

Taryn Pelletier is a graduate of the Urban Aboriginal School. Immediately following her graduation at the beginning of October, she wrote a heart-felt message and posted it on Facebook describing her personal experiences in (and out) of school. The post caught the attention of school staff and fellow students and Taryn was asked to present her message to the Trustees of the Algoma District School Board.

ADSB Chair Jennifer Sarlo thanked Taryn Pelletier for sharing her story with the Board.
ADSB Chair Jennifer Sarlo thanked Taryn Pelletier for sharing her story with the Board.

Taryn’s message was about her great excitement and enthusiasm as she first stepped into high school many years ago. She was hopeful and ready to learn what she needed to make her dreams come true. Instead, she found herself overwhelmed and struggling with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. She tried to avoid people by hiding in washroom stalls and corners of the library and each night she dreaded having to do it all again the next day. She ended up dropping out of her high school:

“I felt defeated. I felt like I gave up on myself despite the many people who did their best to help me. Life has a way of strengthening you though. After many personal battles I found myself again. Through dance, through prayer and ceremony.

I eventually grew the courage to go back to school. And today, I am so proud to say I did it. I did it because I was given the option of keeping to myself, of having a quiet place and time to work. Now, I have something to be proud of, and I can finally say I conquered my biggest challenge so far, and I came out stronger in the end. Now, I have no fears of continuing on in my education.”

Algoma District School Board Chair Jennifer Sarlo and Director of Education Lucia Reece both thanked Taryn for sharing her story. Teachers and administrators at the Urban Aboriginal School were thanked for the part they play in making the environment at the school welcoming, and for creating a space where students can work independently, enjoy their successes and seek out advice and assistance when needed. The one-on-one attention that students receive from teachers at the Urban Aboriginal School means students have a safe space where they are confident to ask the questions they may not have asked in a classroom setting.

Taryn graduated from Urban Aboriginal with her Ontario Secondary School Diploma and is expecting to enroll at Algoma University in the fall.

Final words are from Taryn: “You don’t have to play by everyone else’s rules to be successful. You do what you need to do, what feels right, and you take your strengths and use them to your best advantage. It doesn’t matter what path you take, as long as you get where you’re going.”