By Sandy Naiman
(NC) - Paul Burrill's future looked grim in 2009. His grade nine marks were plummeting. He struggled in Burnaby, B.C.'s public school system. Needing redirection, his parents sent him to Robert Land Academy (RLA) near Welland, Ontario.
This June, Burrill at 17, was valedictorian at his 2012 graduation. Here's how his military-style education changed his life:
• Initially homesick, he made his classmates his family. “Now I consider every boy here a brother.”
• He learned quickly to achieve short-term goals, realizing his capabilities were “more than I was allowing myself to achieve.”
• Burrill's extracurricular activities “weren't exactly ideal, ” but at RLA, rock climbing, boxing, wrestling and jumping out of a plane were activities “that made life really worthwhile.”
• Teachers spent endless hours ensuring students fully comprehend course material, learning time management, productive study skills and university preparation. “They really care about our future.”
• Burrill boosted his averages from 55% to over 80%. He's enrolled in the University of British Columbia's Bachelor of Science degree program, then will pursue wildlife studies.
• Academics are central at RLA, but the school “develops the whole boy,” teaching social deportment, how to always look presentable. “We iron our clothes.”
• Students are prepared for the disciplines of the workforce. Wake-up time is 6 o'clock every morning.
• Respect for the students' superiors is crucial. They're mentored in leadership skills. “I feel confident I'll succeed in any situation in the future.”
• Staff and classmates are there to talk to and willing to listen, all the time.
• “I've achieved more and learned more valuable lessons here than any other education system in Canada could teach me,” Burrill says.
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