Sonkajärvi municipality is situated about 500 kilometres to north of Helsinki. The population of Sonkajärvi is a little bit under five thousand: at the end of the year 2005 the population was 4951 people.
The nearest big cities are Iisalmi (it is about 25 kilometres away), Kajaani (80 kilometres) and Kuopio (105 kilometres).
The education system of Finland
The education system in Finland consists of four stages: preschool, basic education, upper secondary education and higher education.
The preschool starts at the age of six and ends when you are seven. It is optional. In the preschool there arent any real subjects. There are only subject fields which are: mother tongue, natural studies, health, physical and motor development and art and culture. Then the basic education starts and lasts for nine years. When you are sixteen years old the basic education ends. Basic education is compulsory schooling. After basic education you can go to upper secondary school or vocational school. In Sonkajärvi it is possible to attend preschool, basic education and upper secondary school.
Basic education consists of junior comprehensive school and senior comprehensive school. Classes from 1 to 6 are in the junior comprehensive and classes from 7 to 9 in the senior comprehensive school.
The basic education ends after the 9th class and students begin upper secondary education. This means that students study in upper secondary school or vocational school. The upper secondary school takes 2-4 years. Most students complete it in 3 years. In upper secondary schools the year classes have been abolished, so they are non-graded. The upper secondary syllabus consists of a minimum of 75 courses. The vocational school lasts 3 years. The nearest vocational school is in Iisalmi.
We get the study books and school lunch for free here in Finland, except in upper sedondary school. We dont have to pay for any term fees. The community pays for the schooling from the tax money. We also dont have to wear a school uniform.
The School Center of Sonkajärvi
The junior and senior comprehensive schools and upper secondary school are situated in the same building. The junior comprehensive school is in the new part of the building. It was completed in 2004. The junior and senior comprehensive schools and upper secondary school have a common canteen and also the gym. Otherwise the junior comprehensive school works on its own side.
The number of students
In the study year 2006-2007 there are 185 students in the senior comprehensive school. If the number of students in upper secondary school is added, the total amount of students is 277.
We have 29 teachers in our school and most of them teach both in the senior comprehensive and upper secondary school.
We have five different vacations: autum holiday in October, Christmas holiday, winter holiday in March, Easter holiday and summer holiday. The longest holiday is the summer holiday, it last 10 weeks. The other holidays last one week and the Easter holiday lasts four days.
The school year is divided into two terms: the autumn term and the spring term. It is also divided into six periods, so we have six different timetables. The school year starts in August and ends in May or June.
School days start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. The first lesson lasts 45 minutes, just like all the other lessons. After the first lesson we have a break, it lasts 15 minutes. Then we have the second lesson and then lunch. The lunch break lasts 30 minutes. After that we have a lesson and a 15-minute break. During the breaks we can choose either to go out or to stay inside. Before the last lesson we dont have a break. We go straight away to the last lesson.
In the basic education there are both compulsory subjects and optional subjects. Pupils in the seventh grade dont have any optional subjects, but during the spring term of the seventh grade they choose optional subjects fot the 8th grade. Again during the spring term of the 8th grade pupils choose optional subjects for the 9th grade. Some of the choises of the optional subjects are for both the 8th and 9th grades and some of them just for the 8th grade. Some optional subject can last the whole year, the other just one period.
The compulsory subjects in the senior comprehensive school are the following:
-Physical education (PE)
-Mother tongue and literature
Music, visual arts, craft and home economics become optional subjects after the 7th grade. Language A, which is English in our school, starts in the third grade. Language B, which is Swedish in our school, starts in the 7th grade.
The optional subjects offered in our school during the study year 2006-2007 are the following:
-Information technology (IT)
-Mother tongue and literature: Writing course
-Visual arts: Making movies
-Visual arts: Photography
-Music: Playing in a band
-Maths: an extra course
-PE: Ball games
-PE: Ice hockey and floorball
-PE: Dance – from tap dance to hip hop
-Crafts: Wood work, metal work and electronics
-Crafts: Making textile handicrafts
-Biology: Hunting and fishing
-Physics: Astronomy and experimental science
-IT: Word processing
-IT: Spreadsheet computation
-English: Oral communication
-Swedish: Swedish on the Net
-Crafts: Cloth printing and dyeing
-Crafts: Working with beads
-Home economics: The European food culture
-Home economics: Baking
-Visual arts: Comics
-Visual arts: Current arts and crafts
-PE: Keep-fit training
-PE: Dance improvisation
-PE: Finnish baseball
After school there are some clubs. Girls have aerobics and basketball clubs and boys have judo and floorball clubs. Aerobics and basketball last one hour and judo and floorball last an hour and a half.
The peer counselling group
The students in the peer counselling group are students from the 8th and 9th grades. They have received education for this task. They have been trained by the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare.
The students taking part in this activity help other pupils with their problems at school. They have professional confidentiality. Students in the peer counselling group also support the new pupils when they start the seventh grade.
Every student in our school is a member of the student association. We have an election every year and students can vote for the candidates for the committee of the student association. The committee has its meetings when they are needed.
There are about ten pupils in the committee. The committee takes part in the everyday functions of the school and for example organizes parties like Independence Days and Valentine Days party, sport days and every autum there is one special day for the pupils in the seventh class.
The committee has also participated in making the school rules and it also tries to contribute to the comfortable and enjoyable surroundings at school.
The school kiosk - Candy Corner
There is a kiosk in our school. It is open on school days during the last long break from 1 p.m. to 1.15 p.m.
The kiosk is run by the pupils from the 9th grade who have chosen business studies as their optional subject.
From the kiosk you can buy sweets and snacks like fruit, rolls, coffee and juice.