About 70 puzzled students filed into the dark theatre at Halifax West High School yesterday as music worthy of an action movie boomed from the speakers above. Tom Cruise was nowhere to be seen, but a “spy” known only as “N” appeared under a spotlight on stage. Wearing all black and knee-high leather boots, she gave students their “mission” - play an online game to win free university tuition.


“It’s called Mission Tuition,” she said, pausing dramatically.


Some students snickered, but their teacher quickly hushed them. As “N” introduced guests from Communications Nova Scotia, it became apparent the contest was part of their Come To Life campaign that aims to keep students in the province after graduation.


Halifax West student council president Tayte Willows, 18, promoted the game on stage while squinting into the audience to see her classmates’ reactions.

“I saw a lot of really interested faces,” she said. “Having a chance to win free tuition is really intriguing to all the Grade 12s.”

Willows will study English and French next fall at Mount Saint Vincent University. She eventually hopes to go into education.

“It happens all too often that people just leave without actually considering what they could be doing here,” she said. “The opportunities here are so worthwhile.”

Seventeen-year-old Khlood Aly, who sat in the second row, said she would play the game because her parents would appreciate the financial break.

“They would be really happy,” the Grade 12 student said.

Aly wants to study science or nutrition at either the Mount or Dalhousie University, but she hasn’t applied yet.

The online contest, which offers other incentives like MP3 players and laptops, is open to any high school student, but only Grade 12 students are eligible to win tuition. The game is available until June 3.