Outdoor, place-based learning for Columneetza’s Grade 7 classes will continue to be supported by Lake City Secondary School, confirmed LCSS principal Craig Munroe after the school was overwhelmed with more applications than teachers available for its outdoor-focused classes.
Many past and potential parents and students of the outdoor education program voiced concern by a letter distributed in June by Munroe, noting the two current and extremely popular outdoor education classes would no longer be functioning in the same way for the 2021/22 school year. The letter cited the resignation of one of the teachers in the program as well as an overwhelming interest by students and parents for the classes as the reason for the changes.
“It sounds like we’re losing a class but … in the end I think and I hope that we’re going to actually have way more opportunities for all of the kids in Grade 7 to get outside and even Grades 8 and 9 as well,” Munroe said in an interview with the Tribune, noting the district will make targeted funding available to support all teachers to get outside more.
“We’re trying to make it with our field trip budget that we can spread this around to so many more kids.”
Munroe said “literally half” of all 2021/2022 Grade 7 students applied to be in one of the two outdoor-focused classes, which previously had an application process and a $100 fee to cover costs associated with the extra field trips.
The outdoor classes were originally started in 2013/2014 with one class, and grew over time to two classes led by teachers willing to use the outdoors to teach the curriculum. Outdoor classes also spent one school day per week at Scout Island rain or shine, as well as day and overnight trips throughout the year.
One outdoor-focused class will carry on as usual this fall with its existing teacher, Munroe confirmed.
“My letter I put out there wasn’t about trying to kill the program. We’re still running everything …. accept there’s going to be no fee and no application to get into it,” Munroe said, noting students of the one remaining outdoor class will be chosen from those who indicate they want an outdoor class, keeping in mind they need a balanced class like all the other Grade 7 classes.
“We are clearly hearing that parents want more opportunities for their kids to be outside and do place-based learning so we are going to do everything we can to help kids and teachers to get outside.”
Munroe noted the school has several important community partnerships which have helped students and teachers participate in place-based learning and he hopes staff can build on those relationships into the future.