The Vernon School District has approved expansion of the Vernon Community School. It will now include Grade 10 and 11 students.

Community school expands

The Vernon Community School has proven popular with students looking for a different way of learning.

It only started up last year, but the Vernon Community School has proven popular with students looking for a different way of learning.

The program, which operates out of Fulton secondary school, has been open to students in Grade 7, 8 and 9. Starting next fall, it will expand to include Grades 10 and 11.

In light of students’ and parents’ advocacy for continuation and expansion of the VCS, the Vernon School District commissioned consultant David Witt to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the program. In addition to six on-site observations in June, September, and October 2015, the review involved direct input from more than 20 students and more than 35 parents and other adults directly associated with VCS.

At a recent district board meeting, Witt presented his report, where he made a number of recommendations, including the expansion of the program. As well, Witt — former  superintendent of the North Okanagan Shuswap School District —  recommended looking at expanding the program to Grade 12 by December 2016.

Trustees have given unanimous approval to the expansion of VCS to Grades 10 and 11.

VCS co-creators and teachers Murray Sasges and Kim Ondrik, along with a number of students and parents, were in attendance to hear the good news at last week’s board meeting.

“Have you budgeted for seat belts on your chairs because what you approved is not just the growth of the school but the response to a community that is asking for this,” said Sasges.

“And so you will now have 20 or 30 more families that will be advocating for this kind of education in the community, so I know that you will be working with us as we co-create even a new way to administer this.

“I just think you’re very courageous in taking this up and I think it’s a way of education that families, especially in Vernon but across the province, are very interested in and are watching us.”

Sasges and Ondrik will visit every district elementary school in January to explain the program to potential students.

District superintendent Joe Rogers said new student intake will normally be limited to students entering Grades 7 and 8 to a minimum total enrolment of 80 and a maximum total enrolment of 90.

“We are at 56 to 57 students now, and I don’t think 80 will be difficult, but it will allow us to add a third teacher who has the same philosophical approach,” he said.

“And there are some kids with special needs, so there will be more than one new teacher, a full time math and science teacher and a special needs teacher, so those kid can learn and grow and get the support they need.”

VCS is a learning academy targeting district-wide students with diverse and complex needs who were unsuccessful in classrooms that lean toward traditional practices, and home-schooled students who might prefer a learning opportunity that is more communal.

In expanding the program to include Grades 10 and 11, Rogers made a number of recommendations to the board, one of which is to ensure the program includes the new Ministry of Education graduation program and assessment procedure when they are implemented provincially.

Board chairperson Kelly Smith said trustees will consider expanding the program to Grade 12, but said parents will have to wait until next year for a decision.

“At this point, we’re way ahead on even the ministry on this because they haven’t come out with the grad requirements yet,” she said. “Grade 12 will be considered next year, but we need to give the ministry more time. Even by going into Grade 11, that’s a big risk so we need to ask you to wait another year.”

 

Just Posted

Vernon author shorlisted in B.C. historical writing competition

The BC Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded together with $2,500 to the author whose book makes the most significant contribution to the historical literature of British Columbia.

Lumby fire destroys five vehicles

Auto wrecker blaze believed to be accidental

New restaurant on The Rise in Vernon

Multi-million dollar project plans for a 30,000 square foot multi-amenity building with the restaurant and bar

A campaign encourages families to put down their phones and talk this Mother’s Day

OpenTable’s #DiningMode gets Okanagan restaurants on board with a no phone policy while dining

Vernon council will hold town-hall on downtown issues

Notice of motion on meeting put forward by councillor wins near unanimous approval

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

Okanagan experience for the Blue Man Group

The world tour of the Blue Man Group came to Penticton this week for two shows.

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Olympian Andi Naude retires from freestyle skiing

Penticton native skied in 62 World Cup single and dual moguls events in her career

Most Read