Chemainus Secondary School is now where Grade 7 students from Chemainus and Crofton are attending school. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus Secondary School is now where Grade 7 students from Chemainus and Crofton are attending school. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Moving Grade 7s the only solution

There weren’t a lot of options for balancing student population numbers

Given a choice, everyone would surely have loved for things to stay the same in the school system.

But there’s always adjustments to be made for Cowichan Valley School District 79, like most others around the province, on a yearly basis.

It just so happened this region reached a point of having an abundance of students at Chemainus and Crofton Elementary Schools, with space available at Chemainus Secondary. The result has been the decision to move the Grade 7s from both elementary schools into the high school.

It wasn’t a popular decision, with many parents expressing concerns, but one necessitated out of enrollment numbers.

No one can control how many children are born in a given year (well, technically you could) combined with the numbers moving in from outside the region.

There were only 39 graduates at Chemainus Secondary School in 2019 from an obvious dearth of 2001-born boys and girls attending the school. Other grades are currently experiencing much larger numbers so that will be reflected in a corresponding rise for Chemainus Secondary graduating classes in the future.

In the meantime, the swollen confines of the two elementary schools needed a solution. And sending the Grade 7s to the high school (and possibly the Grade 6s from either or both schools next year) was really the only solution.

No one likes the idea of using portables as classrooms unless absolutely necessary and this move has already eliminated two from Chemainus Elementary.

Concern about having younger kids in the same school as senior high school students is a valid one, but one that will surely be well-managed by all educators.

Lake Cowichan Secondary had to make a drastic move several years ago, with the inclusion of children as young as Grade 4 in the same building as Grade 12s. But it was handled by keeping younger students on one floor and older students on the other floor.

There’s no perfect scenario, but our Grade 7s will hopefully continue to learn and progress with minimal disruption. It’s always sad for them to leave their other school; they’re just making the transition one year sooner than anticipated.