New high school police academy offers education with a law enforcement twist
REGINA -- A new police program at Scott Collegiate is giving one class of grade nine students a hands-on opportunity to learn about law enforcement, while also teaching them leadership skills and offering a sense of belonging.
The Scott Police Academy launched in September. The program is a partnership between the Regina Police Service and Regina Public Schools. Organizers say it’s the only known program of its kind in Canada.
The police academy class consists of 14 students from all parts of the public school division who move as a unit for their daily lessons. The majority of their class curriculum pulls in law enforcement-themed content.
“This, we find, just really helps the students engage with what they’re learning because they find a little bit more interest, and a little bit more application to real life scenarios,” Jodie Sonntag, the academy teacher and coordinator, said.
For example, Sonntag said one English lesson focused on how the impacts of the digital world and how to create a positive digital footprint. To address that topic, members of the Internet Child Exploitation Unit spoke to the class.
She said the academy has a strong emphasis on physical activity and much of the students’ training is inspired by police training.
Sonntag runs the academy along with Regina Police Service Cst. Trevor Weir, who puts the policing twist on the lesson plans. Other members of the city police frequently make appearances for guest lessons and lectures.
Sonntag said building relationships between police officers and the students is another key piece of the Scott Police Academy.
“We really just want to shed light on how there’s a lot to an officer beneath the uniform,” Sonntag said. “We also want to expose all the really cool and interesting areas of law enforcement, aside from just police officers.”
MORE THAN POLICING
The goal of the program isn’t to encourage more students to consider a career in law enforcement, but instead to give them a sense of belonging while learning life lessons.
“I hope to see a few of them go into a career in law enforcement, but if they just leave high school with a positive experience, some self confidence and leadership qualities, that’s all we hope for,” Const. Weir said.
The instructors said they also hope to the students learn hard work, commitment, dedication and discipline.
Sonntag said some of the students have begun showing interest in a career in law enforcement, but others are looking at alternative paths.
“We have students who want to be welders, we have students who want to be engineers and we have a couple of students who are interested in law enforcement,” she said. “Ultimately we’re just trying to help these young students become honourable members of the community.”
Next year, the academy will be offered to a new class of grade nines students. The plan is to have the current class go through all of high school in the academy, making it a four year program.
Students from other schools are invited to enroll, which would make Scott Collegiate their new school.