GTN Update: At Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay, change is good

Going to a new school means there are lots of new things happening for me, but there are also lots of new things happening at GTN.

  • Apr. 7, 2017 6:00 p.m.

Hi, my name is Jesse Seifert and this is my first column, but I hope to make it a regular thing. I’m 13 years old and I’m in Grade 8 at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay (GTN) Secondary School. I’ve lived in Masset since I was three and I love soccer.

Going to a new school means there are lots of new things happening for me, but there are also lots of new things happening at GTN. New at the beginning of the year was the school name: Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay. The new name is a Haida one to acknowledge that we are on Haida Gwaii, the traditional land of the Haida people. The former name, GMD, was for George Mercer Dawson, who took many surveys of Haida Gwaii. Surveying Haida Gwaii seems like it would be a lot of work, and so is my new class, called Special Projects.

This semester opened up a space for an extra class called Special Projects, which is project-based learning. Special Projects is a great opportunity for me and my classmates because it gets us to do things you normally wouldn’t do in a regular class I guess you could say it’s special. This class is meant to give us experience in real-life scenarios, like planning an event, doing volunteer work, taking care of a greenhouse and in my case, writing in the newspaper. In Special Projects you could also do a simple research project, just as long as you’re learning.

This is my first year going to the high school, and there are many changes from elementary school. For one, the learning is more self-driven. GTN is bigger than Tahayghen. As well as having more students, Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay has more teachers, and this is the first time I’ve had a different teacher for each subject. It may sound weird, but I also like having more homework because it helps me stay focused on the topic we are learning about. At Tahayghen my class was the oldest, but we’re back to the bottom again at GTN, being the youngest, which is an interesting change. A lot of things are new for me at the high school, although I really enjoy it because it’s relaxed even though I feel as if I’m learning at a faster rate. With everything happening this semester, spring break came at a great time for me. Next year the break will hopefully look a little different.

In the 2017-18 school year there will be a new calendar for the school. There were three options. Option A kept a one-week spring break and gave a few Fridays off. Option B kept the one-week spring break that we have now. Option C, the one the district chose, adds a whole extra week to spring break, making new opportunities for travel, fun, relaxation, events, and learning outside of school.

With the new calendar, you can take a longer vacation that isn’t dictated by the boundaries of a single week. One of the points that advocates of Option A made, is that many kids miss Fridays anyway because of the Thursday night ferry. But I know from experience that more kids miss Fridays because they choose not to go to school on Friday, not because of any ferry travel. A survey on the options was available at, but I must say it was extremely biased toward Option A.

There are a multitude of different opinions and views on change some people are afraid of it, some don’t like it, and others think we should embrace it. I believe change is a good thing because it brings us new opportunities and allows us to experience new things.