Going back to school this week is quite different for Chemainus and Crofton Grade 7 students from what would have normally been anticipated.
The Grade 7s from both Chemainus and Crofton Elementary Schools are being moved into Chemainus Secondary School for the first time. Both elementary schools were facing overcrowded situations while Chemainus Secondary had room available to balance out the student population somewhat.
It’s taken some adjustments to reach this point, but everyone’s pleased how the preparations have gone.
“Parents in both Crofton and Chemainus told us repeatedly how happy they were with the exceptional learning experiences their children were having at the two elementary schools in the north zone,” said Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Cowichan Valley School District No. 79 Board of Education.
“It was our commitment to ensure that continued throughout this transition and into this school year. Over the last number of months, and specifically over the summer, we have worked to ensure that staff in all three schools were supported, and their classrooms and school ready, to continue to offer those same high-quality educational experiences as the Grade 7 students transition into Chemainus Secondary. We couldn’t have done this work without our purchasing, operations, and janitorial staff working so hard throughout the summer months.”
“Our school community, our staff, and all our returning learners are extremely excited to welcome the Grade 7 learners to the school,” enthused Lori Hryniuk, principal of Chemainus Secondary School. “Our staff have been working with their colleagues in Crofton and Chemainus to ensure a smooth transition for the newest members of our school community.”
“We were well prepared to help the Grade 7 students transition to Chemainus Secondary as we spend a lot of time collaborating with the Chemainus Secondary team each year to support our senior students in their transition to secondary school,” explained Jen Calverley, principal of Crofton Elementary School. “While I’m sad to see the students go, I’m grateful they’re headed to Chemainus Secondary with Lori and (vice principal) Jennie (Hittinger) and all the awesome educators and support staff there.”
“Last year we did a lot of work with our students and families to prepare them for this move to Chemainus Secondary, and that work was supported by our colleagues there,” added Brenda Stevenson, principal of Chemainus Elementary School. “Our reconfiguration has meant that we have moved portables out of the field, which will open up extra space for learning and play for our students. These spaces and the ongoing installation of the new playground, purchased by the Parent Advisory Council, is certainly going to create some excitement.”
That new playground is expected to open in mid- to late September.
Enrolment was up in Chemainus/Crofton for the 2018-19 school year that necessitated the move of the Grade 7s. After consulting with the community over the summer of 2018, two portables were added to Chemainus Elementary to accommodate the growth, but it was a temporary measure. The board promised to come back to the community for more wholesome conversations in the 2018-19 year at Chemainus Secondary Jan. 12, Crofton Elementary Jan. 19 and Chemainus Elementary Feb. 13.
The decision to move the Grade 7s was made on Feb. 27 at a special open board meeting, according to records furnished by Mike Russell, communications manager for School District 79.
The motion read as follows: “That the Board of Trustees for School District 79 (Cowichan Valley) relocate the Grade 7 program from Chemainus and Crofton Elementary Schools to Chemainus Secondary beginning in 2019-2020 and the Grade 6 program together, when the purchase of another portable becomes necessary, at either school.”
The second motion regarding that move came at the Feb. 27 meeting: “That the Board of Trustees for School District 79 (Cowichan Valley) request that staff consult with the staff of the three schools to develop a plan for the board’s consideration to mitigate transition concerns that may include: painting and refurbishing of classroom space including provision of desks, technology, changing of black to white boards, etc.; installation of playground apparatus; installation of additional water fountains; refurbishing and equipping the resource room; hiring of an additional noon hour supervisor; and providing a one-time grant to help support year-end events/leaving ceremony for the Grade 6s.”
A plan was later drafted and presented to the board for an open house at Chemainus Secondary for incoming parents and students, with work being done during the summer. Other than the playground equipment, that list is done.
Two portables were moved from Chemainus Elementary to Bench Elementary to accommodate a rise in enrolment there.