Opposition rises to Columneetza becoming a middle school

Opposition to Columneetza secondary becoming a middle school is rising from the ranks of teachers and parents.

The majority of Columneetza secondary teachers and parents are opposed to the School District 27 board’s decision to make that school a predominantly grades 7 to 9 campus, according to presentations made during a special open meeting of the School District 27 board Tuesday.

Backed up by several other teachers, Columneetza teachers Dave Corbett and Troy Johnston, and a representative from the Columneetza parent advisory council gave detailed presentations on the reasons for their position.

Earlier this month trustees confirmed their decision to make Williams Lake Secondary and Columneetza secondary schools one school on two campuses with Columneetza primarily a 7-9 campus and WLSS primarily a 10 to 12 campus.

After hearing the presentations from Columneetza representatives in the question period at the end of the meeting Tuesday, the trustees voted to issue a press release outlining the reasons for their decision.

During the meeting the Columneetza teachers noted that 50 people including parents and teachers had held a meeting recently and were in agreement that making Columneetza the junior campus would be counter productive.

Columneetza teacher Nara Riplinger also gave a short presentation. She noted that she didn’t attend the meeting at Columneetza. She said she supported the one school two campus model, but had hoped the trustees would keep both schools as grades 7 to 12 schools, rather than creating junior and senior campuses.

She said she was concerned about the negative impact the transition of moving from a junior campus to a senior campus would have on vulnerable students.

She also enjoyed being able to follow students through their high school careers.

The following are some of the concerns expressed by those opposing Columneetza becoming the predominantly 7 to 9 campus.

• Columneetza was built as a secondary school in 1967 and has a history of being the senior secondary school in Williams Lake.

• Since being replaced after a fire a few years ago the automotive/welding shop at Columneetza is one of the best in the province and is designed for senior trades courses.

• There is a strong programming link between Columneetza and Thompson Rivers University (across the street) and local businesses which promotes and provides trades training opportunities for senior secondary students. TRU has used the Columneetza facilities in the past and there is opportunity to do so in the future. Some Columneetza students also take some courses at TRU.

• Given the demand for skilled tradespeople in B.C. there is a fear that if students had to bus from WLSS to Columneetza for shop classes, enrolment in these trades classes would drop, along with the ability to offer more varied trades courses.

• Some WLSS students now take shop courses at Columneetza but that number is less than five per cent of all the students who take shop courses. The majority are Columneetza students.

• Students seeking to take trades courses will bear the majority of the burden of having to bus between the two schools to take the elective courses they need.

• Many of the students entering the trades are among the most vulnerable students and may opt not to take trades courses if they have to bus between the schools.

• There is also a concern that students will drive their vehicles to Columneetza for their shop classes instead of taking the school bus, which could pose a safety and liability risk for the district.

• There is more parking at Columneetza for students who drive, and having students with cars is an important part of the automotive program.

• The WLSS shop is more suited for middle school students.

• The Columneetza campus has a day-care centre for teen mothers wishing to stay in school.

• Columneetza has a hot lunch program and a mentoring program with neighbouring elementary schools.

• Columneetza has six science labs, while WLSS has four science labs.

• WLSS, with its pod configuration, and gymnasium size, is more suited for a middle school.

• In efforts to alleviate fears that young students would be making excursions downtown during breaks the presentations noted that as a junior campus WLSS could be designated as a closed campus for grades 7 to 9 students where students would not be allowed off school grounds during breaks.

• The school buses stop at the WLSS door.

In the last presentation, Fred Stafford asked the board to be open and transparent about its reasons for choosing WLSS as the 10 to 12 campus and what senior administrators had recommended.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Cynthia English (Photo submitted)
INTERNATIONL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cynthia English

Cynthia English, 30, has been working in the logging industry for several years

Kristy Alphonse Palmantier was crowned Williams Lake Stampede Queen in 1981. She has four children (Jody Palmantier, Davee Palmantier, Julie Doerfling and Sky Moses) as well as four grandchildren including Ace, Chance, Xidi and Ryder who was born last month. Alphonse Palmantier lives in Sugar Cane and in her spare time loves to be out on the land and hunt and fish with her partner CraigHilker. (Kristy Palmantier Facebook photo)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Roots run deep for Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune

Spreading positivity through music is one way Cleary Manning tries to make the community better

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read