Alternative Adult High School still accepting students in Délı̨nę

According to the NWT Bureau of Statistics, only 25 per cent of Délı̨nę residents have obtained a high school diploma.

"Sometimes I have one student, sometimes I have four," says Jason Castonette, teacher dedicated to the Alternative High school program.

Délı̨nę’s only school is getting a new program for adults.

Ehtseo Ayha School launched a pilot project turning its grammar school into a night school, after hours.

The program is called the Alternative Adult High School and it started in September with a total of eight students.

Kim Hagarty, Ehtseo Ayha’s principal, says students at the end of the program will be receiving a high school diploma, as opposed to a General Education Development (GED).

“Without education, you’re stuck,” she says.

Ehtseo Ayha School in Délı̨nę. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

“Most jobs require a minimum of Grade 12 education, whether it’s in the Northwest Territories, or anywhere else,” she adds.

The night school opens from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and operates out of the computer lab.

“Sometimes I have one student, sometimes I have four,” says Jason Caskenette, teacher dedicated to the program.

Caskenettee, in his second year of teaching, explains that the students can come and go as they please.

“The program is based around the students, their desires and goals,” says Caskenette, depending on their level of commitment and engagement will depend on what they get out of it.

COVID-19 was actually one of the driving forces behind the program, Caskenette explains.

With new protocols and measures against the virus put into place by the chief public health officer, the school had to find a different way to run the program.

The biggest challenge was in finding the appropriate space, says Caskenette.

Since Ehtseo Ayha School was unable to allow the influx of former students back into the classroom and integrate them with other students, the idea of a night school was born.

“I want them to walk out of here not just a success in their school studies, but also their dreams and plans for the future,” Caskenette says.

The program is designed to provide students with the flexibility and support to attain all their credits.

Because of COVID-19, students are separated and rooms are cleaned prior to use.

However, Hagarty says there is still room for more students.

“We’re here to help you get those courses in a way that works for you,” she adds.

The school even offers drop-in times for homework pick up as most of the curriculum is available online.

Individual learning plans are set up for each student, says Renee Closs, superintendent for the Sahtu Education Council.

According to the NWT Bureau of Statistics, only 25 per cent of Délı̨nę residents have obtained a high school diploma.

Funded by the department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), this program supports the contract of one full-time teacher.

“So long as learners continue to register and attend the program, we are hoping to continue with this program,” says Closs.

Residents can register for night school, here.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. On her spare time, you can find her at your local coffee shop writing songs, poetry and prose or at the gym out-lifting men. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at or call 867-766-2552 Ext 108