Moving into a brand new school with modern facilities and cutting-edge teaching technology will remain a milestone in the history of Lapuan lukio, Lapua Upper Secondary School (Senior High School). After more than two decades’ wait, the both architecturally and functionally purposeful building finally stands next to Lapua Vocational School to complete the Secondary School Campus of Lapua. The finishing touches to the interior were given in the early spring of 2019. The new school was inaugurated on 29th of April, 2019.
Lapua Upper Secondary School is situated in Ostrobothnia, Western Finland. The enrolment is running high, about 210 students. The staff consists of a headteacher, 23 teachers, and 7 other members of staff, including a full-time student counsellor.
The core curriculum of our school provides all-round education aiming at preparing the students for further education at universities and universities of applied sciences. The prerequisite of graduation is the successful completion of a minimum of 75 courses / 150 study credits and passing the national test known as the Matriculation Examination, organized by the Finnish Matriculation Examination Board each spring and autumn. A student has to pass the test at least in four subjects. Finnish is compulsory for everyone.
The range of subjects studied consists of Finnish Language and Literature, Mathematics (basic and advanced syllabus), Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, Social Studies, Psychology, Philosophy, Religion and Ethics, English, Swedish (advanced and intermediate syllabus), German, French, Spanish, PE, Arts, Music and IT. In addition, Russian can be studied, e.g. online, taught by one of our teachers. Most of the subjects include both compulsory and optional courses.
The school counsellor is in the key role in guiding and compiling the students’ individual study paths. Versatile professional support is also available for the students with learning difficulties as well as with health and social concerns.
In recent years there have been some major, warmly welcomed changes in conducting the daily school work. Computerized teaching, and digitalisation have been encroaching into the classroom and examination halls. By the year 2021 the present National Core Curriculum for General Upper Secondary Schools, which was enforced only a few years ago, will have been changed for yet a new one by the Ministry of Education.
The academic year is launched in early August and draws to an end for the summer break in early June. It is divided into five periods of six weeks, each of which ending with the final tests and prep classes on the last seven days of the period. There are three longer breaks during the academic year: an autumn break, a Christmas break and a winter break.
Lapua Upper Secondary has an active Student Board supervised by an energetic representative of the staff. The members are elected by the students. The Student Board organizes activities for the students and is also responsible for the school cafeteria at parents’ evenings and on other occasions.
Our school has an established group for international projects and mobility, headed by a designated teacher. Similarly, we have exchange students studying at our school almost annually. The international team is working in collaboration with various local partners, depending on the ongoing project.
The average school year is sprinkled with interesting functions and events, either on a bigger or a smaller scale. There can be lecturers, authors, politicians, alumni, athletes, entrepreneurs, people representing a religious sect or the church etc. visiting classes or addressing the whole school. There might be a pop-up music group performing during a break or an afternoon spent on the slopes and tracks of Simpsiö, the local scenic recreational area.
Furthermore, there are a couple of nationwide traditions in Finnish Upper Secondary Schools, which are celebrated also in Lapua Upper Secondary. “Penkkarit” marks the end of school for the third graders in the spring of their final year. Students wear fancy dresses, organize a hilarious show called “Abikabaree” and finish their special day by climbing onto the back of a lorry and riding around the town throwing sweets at people who have come to witness the merrymaking.
“Vanhojen päivä” is for the second-year students to celebrate their becoming the seniors of the school and gaining the reign from the third-year students, who have left the school the day before. The course called ”Vanhat tanssit” consists of dance instruction and general manners instruction preparing the second-year students for the highlight of their school year. The Ballroom Dance Event is arranged on the evening of the day of ”Penkkarit”. The gym hall of the local sports centre is packed with excited parents, enraptured relatives, friends and locals as well as curious visitors from neighbouring towns. But there is more to it than that. On the morning of the following day, the students dress up again to wear their magnificent gowns and three-piece suits for a morning concert, visiting old people’s homes in smaller groups to show off their skills and, finally, for a special lunch in the afternoon where the prevailing senior students and the members of the staff will enjoy a delicious meal.
The school year ends up with a big graduation event at which the students who have passed their Matriculation Examinations receive their certificates and their white caps called “ ylioppilaslakki” and bunches of red roses from their family overcome by joy and pride. This beautiful occasion is rather ceremonial with formal speeches and touching music but, first and foremost, it is memorable for the young bright graduates who know the world is their oyster.