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Gender neutral washrooms among building upgrades for Sicamous high school

New principal says new washrooms exciting project for the secondary school
New principal of Eagle River Secondary, Lyle Chapman, is excited about returning to the school after many years. (Andrea Horton-Eagle Valley News)

With the new school year come new additions to Eagle River Secondary in Sicamous.

This year the new principal is Lyle Chapman, taking over the helm from principal Mark Marino.

“It’s a pretty full-circle moment for me; I’m pretty excited to be here,” said Chapman, speaking to the News on Sept. 2.

He explained that ERS is the first school he taught at when he was starting out as a teacher about 25 years ago.

His photo can be seen hanging in the school hallway.

Enlarging the circle is the fact some of the students he taught are now parents and their kids are attending the school.

Asked if he has plans for the school, Chapman said the first thing for him will be to take time to learn about the culture and feel of the school, seeing what its strengths are.

He said he’ll be looking to see where he can continue to move it forward.

“The previous principal was super effective,” he said, so he won’t be looking at any sweeping changes.

He said Marino is a friend and he described him as “an amazing educator.”

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“I’m not looking at sweeping changes, I will just be looking at creating those opportunities for kids…”

He noted that small schools have many opportunities for students which he’d like to foster and keep moving.

ERS encompasses Grades 7 through 12. He expects the final enrolment number will be in the mid 150s. “Nice small classes, super personal learning and lots of hands-on opportunities.”

He gave the example of walking field trips and how small classes make such activities easier to provide.

“Because we have so few students, it’s much easier to manage those opportunities because you’re not dealing with 30 kids.”

Chapman said he’s been out of the district for about seven years.

He took positions in a couple of different districts, he said.

He was in Osoyoos for a couple of years and in the Vernon school district for the past five years.

At one time he said his family was considering transitioning out of the district permanently. However, he’s really happy with what’s he’s seeing – how it’s moving forward, he said.

“I’m just excited to be here, hoping to spend a few years here, wrapping my head around the school, what I can do to continue to make it great.”


Chapman is also impressed with all the work that’s been done on the building.

Along with big upgrades to the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, the school now has a gender-neutral washroom.

Chapman explained that a plumbing issue arose with one of the washrooms and repairing it ended up requiring deconstruction. Because the push around the province is to provide options for students, it was decided it would be an opportune time to construct a gender-neutral facility.

Read more: New B.C. high school being built with gender-neutral ‘Washrooms for Every Body’

He said the new design means more sink space with four sinks out in the open, while the individual stalls have full walls and doors for privacy.

“You don’t have to worry about wandering into the wrong bathroom.”

The washrooms are near the front entrance to the school so are easily visible and can be easily monitored if there are any problems.

Traditional gender-specific washrooms are still available in another wing of the school.

“It’s nice because there may be some students who still want to go into the traditional style,” Chapman said.

He said the work began at the end of June and just wrapped up.

“We’re super excited about it; it’s a big project for Eagle River,” Chapman said.

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Eagle River Secondary in Sicamous undergoes upgrades in time for new school year. Dale Brodoway and Daylon Gray were busy doing finishing touches on Sept. 1, 2022 (Andrea Horton-Eagle Valley News)

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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