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Students, teachers and community gather

Christmas dinner was served Thursday to Greater Trail alternate students who were joined by community members for at Trail Middle School.

Christmas dinner was served early Thursday to Greater Trail alternate students who were joined by community members for a third annual gathering at Trail Middle School (TMS).

About 75 people dug into turkey and all the fixings while they visited with friends, coworkers and new acquaintances. But the meal merely served as a backdrop to a greater story, a successful program that has helped many teens receive a certificate.

“If it wasn’t for TMS, I wouldn’t have graduated last year,” said Krystal McKimmie, 2011 co-valedictorian who was back in her old stomping grounds as a personal sponsor for the dinner, which was made possible by others community individuals, businesses and organizations such as Kiwanis, Tim Hortons and Teck.

Under the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre, the Cooperative Learning Centre offers a family-like environment for about 125 students that have found the program because they left high school and decided to come back or felt that a traditional campus wasn’t working for them.

Though still providing a structured learning environment like J. L. Crowe or Rossland Secondary, the co-op program accepts that it may take longer for students to complete their studies.

“Everybody here gets painted with the same brush,” said student Alex Johre.

“Everybody thinks that everybody who goes to this school is bad, or they’re wrapped up with the wrong crowd or whatever and that’s not the case. I’m a prime example of it. I don’t drink, I don’t really do anything but work.”

Cody Best decided to switch into the program when he was bullied at another local high school for the way he dressed and acted.

“This school is like the best, there is no bullying and the teachers are great,” he said.

After a moment of silence, aboriginal education coordinators presented the “spirit plate,” which was taken outside to invite ancestors in to remember their teachings.

“To me this is a real time of thankfulness,” said alternate education coordinator Derk Zimmer. “It’s quite emotional for me to see everyone in the same place.”