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Private school opens doors

Brad Swanson, a teacher at the new Kala Star Academics and Outdoor School, invites the public to come check out the school at the open house today and Monday. - Tyler Lowey/Morning Star
Brad Swanson, a teacher at the new Kala Star Academics and Outdoor School, invites the public to come check out the school at the open house today and Monday.
— image credit: Tyler Lowey/Morning Star

The Kala Star Academics and Outdoor School is set to open the doors Sept. 2 for its inaugural school year.

“The program is developed for the interests of each child,” said Kala Star Academics and Outdoor school teacher Brad Swanson. “We are going to work with the kids individually to accommodate for the kids’ needs.”

Their students will be learning inside and outside of the classroom.

“Once June ended, I was like, ‘great, when does September start?’ I was so excited to start up this program,” said Swanson.

The private school is currently holding an open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. today and Monday, to help educate families about their program.

The open house is located in their school, in the Argyll School of Performing Arts & Motion Building, in the Alpine Centre just off of Kalamalka Lake Road.

Swanson is looking forward to meeting committed families at the open house. He wants to get an understanding of the kids and their parents before they join the school and go over the application process.

The foundation behind the Academics and Outdoor school is providing the opportunity for students to learn outside the classroom just as much as they do inside.

Swanson, a teacher for 10 years around Vernon, will accomplish this through a variety of field trips around the Vernon area.

“We are still working with the ministry of education, but we are trying to develop creativity and innovation through more hands-on learning in the real world rather than sitting in a classroom all day,” said Swanson.

The school is set up for kids between grades 3-7. They have set a limit at 11 students so they can work with the kids a lot closer.

“We wanted a smaller class size so we can engage with the kids better and so they can engage with each other better,” said Swanson.

Brad will be teaming up with his wife Michelle, who previously worked for WestJet and plans on being a major helper during the school year.

“I remember when I was a kid, whenever we did hands-on learning in class I was more involved and I retained the information a lot better,” said Michelle. “Everything is a wow factor for kids. Everything is new to them – they are like sponges, and we want to take advantage of that outside the classroom.”

The Swansons will also receive help from volunteer and retired teachers in the community.

“The community has been great. Businesses are on board and have donated things to us and have invited our class to come check out their work environment so the kids can learn outside of the classroom,” said Michelle.

The Swansons have bought a 15-passenger van to transport the kids during field trips.

“We have plenty of events planned. We are going to be taking the kids paddle boarding, we are going to go hiking and in the winter we will be heading up to Silver Star once a week. We have trips planned to the airport along with teaching the kids about environmental projects such as SPrKL,” said Brad.

The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake is one of the groups they will be working with.

The Swansons see areas for potential expansion down the road.

They are thinking about splitting the age groups into two, grades 1-3 and 4-7 next year.

 

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