Nathan Mackintosh

Kala Star opens door for youth

Everyday starts with a ‘good morning’ handshake, followed by a calm morning stretch/yoga/self-strength builder to help clear the mind

Everyday starts with a ‘good morning’ handshake, followed by a calm morning stretch/yoga/self-strength builder to help clear the mind.

The belief at Kala Star is if you get the blood moving positively, to start your day, you will have the ability to engage in your learning, and social interactions, with much more success.

The classroom has one rule ‘use your best judgement in all situations.’

Brad Swanson, the Head Learner, supports all of the kid’s decisions, whether a good choice or a poor decision.

“We want young people to understand, in life, when bad decisions are made there are consequences, and when good decisions are made you are usually met with greater successes and privileges.”

Swanson provides many opportunities for learning, with local and provincial experts and businesses, to supplement the student’s textbook work. The low student-teacher ratio (9:1), not only allows for many more opportunities of one-on-one learning, but allows the ability for Kala Star to take their Learning Van to local and provincial experts and businesses. Some examples of expert learning field trips are: a mock-purchase of a new and used vehicle at Vernon Hyundai, learning about finances, taxes, and negotiating; a trip to the mouth of the Fraser River, through Hell’s Gate, to follow the fish they raised last year, and the opportunity to meet with Four Season’s Executive Chef Ned Bell for a salmon anatomy and cooking lesson; graphic art design and ‘quality’ lessons at Speed Pro Signs; chemistry with Olive Us Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Room; understanding and witnessing the Waste Management, Recycle and Disposal Facility; RDNO Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant learning; engaging in Indigenous Traditional Knowledge with the Kingfisher Interpretive Center; Coldstream Ranch visits; Kal Tire eco-building education; Skyride Cycle bike maintenance lesson to supplement the spring/summer bike program; NexGen Hearing to gain an understanding of the ear; Zelaney’s farms, Local Pharmacy Farms, and an aquaponic farmer for growing knowledge; wake surfing lessons with Vernon Boat Rentals; learning about decomposers and compost with Allan Brooks Nature Centre; local bee expert and swarm recovery with Gallie Bee Hives; 10-week ski program at Silver Star; summer paddling with Kala Vida; and cooking instruction with Gumtree Catering.

“The goal is to expose the learners to as many learning opportunities as possible,” said Swanson. “This is to help the learners build an all around base, so they can conquer any endeavour they may choose in life.”

Kala Star also strives for building healthy communities, and works hard at being environmental stewards. Some of the initiatives these learners have embraced are: Raising awareness for sustainability, and the protection, of Kalamalka Lake, Coldstream Creek, Vernon Creek, and Okanagan Lake; partaking in local creek and beach cleanups, and working with SPrKL (The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake). The learners are passionate about raising awareness for quagga and zebra mussels, locally and provincially.

Currently, the learners are working on a documentary to raise awareness on this invasive threat to our water shed. The learners have obtained expert documentary mentors to help build their base with documentary skills (Brynne Morrice, Lisa Gallie and Mike Little).

As well, the learners engage in conversation, play crib tournaments, and build a bond with local seniors at Coldstream Meadows Retirement Community.

Furthermore, students raise salmon at Kala Star (being a part of the milting process to releasing fry back into the river system); the learners have organized bottle drives over the last two years, with 100 per cent of proceeds to local, national, and international causes.

This is all supplementary to the Distributed Learning Education, run by Vlearn of School District 22.

Will these learners be our future leaders? Let’s hope so,” said Swanson.

For more information, visit, contact or follow Kala Star on Facebook.




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