Briefs: New laptops to young writers, students in the thick of it in the Cowichan Valley School District

Robyn Gray, schools superintendent for SD79
Young writers enjoy their special daylong workshop with authors. (SD79 photo)
Yukon Dan pays a visit to Palsson Elementary School in Lake Cowichan to show the children some gold panning tips. (SD79 photo)
Lake Cowichan School students walk away with new laptops, thanks to a program with BC RCMP Lake Cowichan Aux. Constable Tanya Trafford. (SD79 photo)
Students from George Bonner Elementary carry a couch out of the woods on their clean-up day. (SD79 photo)

Robyn Gray, newly appointed superintendent of schools for the Cowichan Valley school district, told her school board colleagues May 7 that she’s really enjoying exploring the area.

“The work that this district is doing is large, wide, exciting. In the month of April, it was extreme. On April 8, we had a non-instructional day at Somena House and it was a beautiful learning day about being welcomed in the sacred house of learning of the Cowichan Tribes. As we all know one of the ministry directives [is] around indigenous learning and the success of all of our aboriginal learners. On April 24, we had our first meeting for our Grade 12 barbecue. We will meet again in June. The idea is to bring all of our Grade 12 students together and really showcase who they are within this community. It’s at the VIU campus so it’s their start to post secondary education as well.”

Also, the school district recently has hosted a “deeper learning: conference.

“This is our partnership with 11 other districts that include three from the province of B.C., plus California, Vermont, Boston. It was a profound learning experience for the many districts that attended. They experienced the great hosts of the Cowichan Valley, and I think it was deep and profound for many of them who wouldn’t understand our traditions and our practices particularly around our beautiful learning environments,” she said.

The event included a 7 a.m. ocean-going canoe outing in Cowichan Bay, which really emphasized balance and working together, Gray said.


Inside the district’s schools, Robyn Gray, superintendent of schools, has been kept hopping with the number of events on the go.

“We had the district young authors conference, and on April 23, we had 102 Grade 5-12 students and seven published authors taking part in the biannual Cowichan Valley school district young authors conference at the Chemainus Theatre. To be selected young authors have to submit writing samples at their schools and from there, the hundred or so students are selected. The Grade 10-12 students are able to spend an in-depth full day with one author. The students really enjoyed the experience and the guest authors were incredibly impressed with the quality of the writing and creative thinking that students demonstrated.


Other school-related events last week include the transportation department’s kindergarten open houses, hosted on May 14 and May 15. All families and students new to busing were welcome to attend and buses were available for students and parents to tour and staff were on hand to help with new registrations.

“What a great opportunity,” schools superintendent Robyn Gray said.


A Youth Action Day conference on May 15 at Quamichan was for youth by youth, and was organized through the Compassionate Leaders Project of the Cowichan Intercultural Society. The student planning team worked hard to organize this event [for up to] 250 student delegates to attend from secondary schools in the Cowichan region, according to schools superintendent Robyn Gray.


In the western area of the district, Lake Cowichan School had a mock crash scene. Students were led outside to the scene of the collision. Partners from the St. John Ambulance BC Yukon, Town of Lake Cowichan fire department, BC Ambulance Service and Lake Cowichan RCMP all participated, even performing an extraction of a driver from a second vehicle.

Schools superintendent Robyn Gray thanked district operations manager Monroe Grobe, who was one of the responding firefighters at the event.

Also, 12 randomly chosen Grade 7 students at LCS walked away with new HP laptops thanks to a program with the RCMP. Lake Cowichan Aux. Const. Tanya Trafford worked with the kids for six sessions on online safety, healthy relationships, and media awareness.


At Palsson Elementary, ready set learn was held in mid April: a free drop in for children aged two to five.

It exposes pre-kindergarten students and their parents to all the wonderful things they will get to experience as their school years come closer. A large group of community partners come to chat with parents about the programs that are available. Similar events are being held in the school district’s three other zones as well.

In May, the school welcomed Yukon Dan, with his gold rush demonstrations.

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