A group of principals, teachers, administrators, and parents in School District No. 83 (North Okanagan–Shuswap) is looking to schools in Clinton and Ashcroft as they consider the possibility of a Kindergarten to grade 12 school in Sicamous.
SD 83 is considering closing Parkview Elementary in Sicamous, and turning Eagle River Secondary into a K–12 facility. A committee was struck to examine whether or not that model was a sound educational option, and visited other K–12 schools to take a look at the mode in action. David Stoddart School in Clinton and Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft were two of the schools the group toured.
Eagle River Secondary Principal Val Edgell said the group came to Clinton and Ashcroft in November last year. “What was neat was that the group could get some questions answered around the process.”
Committee members were able to talk with administration, staff, and students at the schools. Edgell admits that at the start of the process, members of the committee had varying levels of acceptance of the K–12 model, with some completely opposed to it.
“Visiting other schools really changed the minds of members; they were very reassured. The team came away thinking the schools had such a positive atmosphere, and they were very reassured by the behaviour of the students.”
Carole Pickering, Principal of David Stoddart School, said that the committee was very interested in seeing the actual day-to-day activities of the school unfold. “They had sent questions in advance, so they had a lot of information when they came here.”
She says that the interaction of the older students with the younger ones was a concern. “When they saw that the interactions were positive, that the older students were kind to the younger ones, it allayed a lot of their fears.”
Pickering says that the committee members left on a more positive note than when they arrived. “They were impressed and happy; it was a positive experience for them.
“School culture is always a big consideration; you walk in to a school and get a feeling for it. Things are going well at David Stoddart, and we were able to give them the feeling that things are working here.”
Colleen Minnabarriet, Principal of Desert Sands School, says that “the response of the group from Sicamous was extremely positive, and they felt optimistic for their community once they saw the school and discussed the ways we are working to support learning from pre-K to grade 12 in our community.”