Victory Laps: Vicious or Victorious?


Grade 12 is a whirlwind. Right up to senior year, many students have no clue which pathway to pursue. The majority are unaware of all the possibilities that are offered once they graduate.

Here are the options:

Apprenticeship: Woo, hands on! The trades are for me.

Work: I want an income right out of high school.

College: I learn how to actually DO something and stand a better chance of getting a JOB? Sounds perfect.

University: I love learning.  I’m prepared for the hard work and I’ll worry about what my job will look like… later.

However, that’s not all! If a student feels as though none of the options mentioned so far are fit for his / her needs, an extra year of high school may be the answer. This additional year is commonly referred to as a Victory Lap.

Is the Victory Lap for You?

Some decide that they are not prepared, whether it is for academic, social, financial or emotional reasons, to take the leap from high school. The transition can seem quite overwhelming and the thought of a new chapter is nothing short of terrifying. Students may also need to take advantage of the optional grade 13 year to better their marks for a program they desire to take after secondary school. Or maybe, a student just hasn’t decided what career or field they have an interest for, and they need the extra year to figure it out. As a result of these variables, students across Ontario have the opportunity to take this fifth year of high school.

A student and two staff members at Milton District High School were interviewed about their opinions and experiences regarding victory laps.

It’s a bird, its a plane, it’s a…“Victory Lapper”

Tyler Reis-Sanford, a student who is currently doing a victory lap, was questioned about his decision.

When asked why he chose to return for another year, Reis-Sanford said, “I knew I had to work and save up money. Having half a year to work is going to help for sure.”

He was also asked if he’s lapping to improve his academic success, to which he replied, “I’ll be able to take away one or two of my lowest marks [with applications for college or university] and swap them with decently high ones.”

Reis-Sanford seems to be the poster boy for valid reasons why one should take a victory lap.

What do teachers think about victory laps? Let’s ask!

Ms. Hardie, an English teacher who has three students doing a victory lap in the first semester, was asked if students generally benefit from retaking a course (assuming that they hadn’t done so well the previous year). “It depends upon whether they have made significant changes in their work habits and learning skills” noted Ms. Hardie.

Students can’t expect to receive a better grade by just simply returning and doing it all again, the same way.

She also added that while assessing the work of students taking a victory lap,  it is marked, “the same way as everyone else’s since there is a specific criteria that I am looking for.”

The fact that students won’t be penalized or marked differently for taking a class they had the previous year is something to take note of. It’s definitely a weight off the shoulders for students knowing that they’ll be assessed on the same basis as their peers, regardless of whether or not they’re lapping.

Shall we ask an expert?

Ms. Saliba, who is a Sociology teacher and Guidance Counsellor, mentioned that students have to fill out an application sheet in order to have the opportunity to come back for a victory lap. However, it isn’t guaranteed that a student will be able to return. Saliba made it clear that, “students can’t come back just because.” One of the requirements is that they provide a printout of the program they wish to pursue, in order to prove that they are returning for a reason.

“Administrators also look if the students have had problems with teachers or if they’ve had issues with attendance in the past.”

She emphasized the point that students must, “be one-hundred percent sure that this is what they want to do.”

Victory laps are quite beneficial if a student is driven and has a specific agenda as to why they’ve chosen to return for the extra year. However, if someone has had issues with the school and is also unsure about the pathway they wish to follow, the optional grade 13 year could actually be detrimental to their academic success.

The outcome of a victory lap varies from student to student. The deciding factor relies on the student, themselves, and what their goals are by the end of grade 13. Depending on the intent of a student’s return, their previous history within the school and their level of determination, it will determine whether or not their victory lap is vicious or victorious.

First Person Sources:

Tyler Reis-Sanford

Grade 13 Student

Milton District High School


Davida Hardie

English Teacher

Milton District High School


Candace Saliba

Sociology Teacher & Guidance Counsellor

Milton District High School

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