Community should have chosen name

Author says Ashcroft school was renamed without sufficient community input.

Dear Editor

This week we are approaching the end of summer and I have decided that it was time to appeal to the members of the board of trustees SD 74 Gold Trail, especially those from the outlying areas who are not directly affected by the renaming of the school in Ashcroft. I ask you to consider what you might do if you were confronted with the dilemma of having to name a school within your community.

I hope that you would seek input throughout the community, not only through the school websites but through the local media, such as the local newspaper, and radio station, as well as handouts given to students, to be shared with parents and the community at large. I would hope that you would invite the community at large to a meeting, enabling them to express their views, and that it would happen far earlier in the process than the renaming of Ashcroft Secondary School did as it transitioned from a secondary school to a K-12.

For a community like Ashcroft, a notice in the post office and at Safety Mart would have certainly given the community a greater opportunity to participate in the process. We must remember that while the school is primarily for the students, it is used by many other local groups, and therefore should reflect the will of the entire community.

It would have been a fantastic idea to have consulted the Village of Ashcroft to ascertain their collective will regarding something of this magnitude. It would appear that you have chosen to ignore the historical significance of schools to their respective communities in this particular situation, and that you have also disregarded a petition with almost 650 signatures, asking only that you reconsider your decision to adopt the name Desert Sands for the renovated school.

It is not too late to listen to the people and include them in this endeavor. The name Desert Sands is not etched in stone and it could be reviewed.

Please consider the ridicule that you could easily be subjecting our students to when they travel representing our communities in athletics, as well as any other co-curricular or extracurricular activities. It certainly would be difficult identifying the name Desert Sands Community School, with Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Spence’s Bridge, Loon Lake, Walachin, 16 Mile, 20 Mile, Upper Hat Creek or Back Valley, all areas that while they are semi-arid, bear little resemblance to an actual desert.

I do understand that many retirees travel to the desert regions of the southwestern United States to escape the cold of winter and are often referred to as “Snow Birds”, but our youth are certainly not ready for such pursuits. They would much prefer, snowmobiling, snow-boarding, skiing and hockey, activities not often found in the desert, however very accessible to our area.

Throughout my travels this summer, as I have shared the new school’s name with people both in Canada and the US, I have not heard one positive comment regarding the name. Most of these people have no affiliation with our community or school district. Both young and old alike have asked the same question, why that name? The only answer I can give is that our school district trustees have chosen it.

Mike Baldwin

Ashcroft