Cowichan school briefs: Koala fundraiser, gravity cars, trades grants, and academic award

Frances Kelsey graduate Eileen Wallgrove (left) is the recipient of the 2018-19 Governor General’s Academic Medal. (Submitted) Frances Kelsey graduate Eileen Wallgrove (left) is the recipient of the 2018-19 Governor General’s Academic Medal. (Submitted)
Frances Kelsey graduate Eileen Wallgrove (left) is the recipient of the 2018-19 Governor General’s Academic Medal. (Submitted)
The Cowichan Valley School District Careers and Dual Credit teams join Lisa Ayton, Industry Training Authority youth outreach leader, Kyle Preston, Industry Training Authority regional apprenticeship advisor and Larry Mattin, director of instruction (secondary). (Mike Russell photo) The Cowichan Valley School District Careers and Dual Credit teams join Lisa Ayton, Industry Training Authority youth outreach leader, Kyle Preston, Industry Training Authority regional apprenticeship advisor and Larry Mattin, director of instruction (secondary). (Mike Russell photo)
Students at École Mill Bay held a successful bake sale on Jan. 29 to raise money for the kolas injured as a result of the Australian bushfires. (Mike Russell photo) Students at École Cobble Hill held a successful bake sale on Jan. 29 to raise money for the kolas injured as a result of the Australian bushfires. (Amanda Crowston photo)
The third annual Gravity Car Challenge was held at the end of January, a popular competition for staff and students alike. (Mike Russell photo) The third annual Gravity Car Challenge was held at the end of January, a popular competition for staff and students alike. (Mike Russell photo)

There’s been a lot of activity within the Cowichan Valley School District schools of late — so much so that there’s a lot to catch up on. Here are just some of the highlights of what’s been a busy 2020 already for staff and students within the district:

Baking for the koala bears

Jan. 29 was the day for fourth and fifth grade students from Nathalie Boulanger’s class and students from their Roots & Shoots Club at École Cobble Hill to hold their bake sale. The classes wanted to raise money for the koalas injured as a result of the Australian bushfires.

“One student, Lola MacDonald, came to me after she learned koalas were suffering and burning with the drought in the wildfires. She suggested we do something and she was thinking of a bake sale fundraiser,” Boulanger stated. “It was a great idea for our class to get involved in the project together and learn about fundraising, advertising, communicating, and counting money.”

The students did a lot of work, including making posters, presenting the project to every class in the school, doing the baking, running the sale and counting the money in class the next day. The lineup for the table filled the hall and most items sold out and the group made $1,035 to help the koalas. The money will be sent to two reputable non-profits set up to aid the crisis in Australia.

“I’m happy to see our young leaders coming forward with concrete ways of helping those that need it in our world,” said SD79 superintendent Robyn Gray. “Time and time again our learners show that they are willing to put in the work to create a world they believe in. On behalf of the District, I congratulate them on their success.”

Speeding students

More than 1,200 gravity cars were built at 15 schools within the district and raced at the third annual Cowichan Valley Careers and Dual Credit Gravity Car Challenge on Jan. 28.

The event, hosted at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit helps students to understand fundamental trades skills.

“Our students look forward to this event every year,” said SD79 superintendent Robyn Gray. “The sheer creativeness and ingenuity that goes into these cars is truly remarkable. Our Trades and Dual-Credit team do a wonderful job encouraging our learners and developing the next generation of designers, engineers, tradespeople, and so much more.”

The day’s activities included a tour of the Motorsport Circuit, a look under a high-performance sports car, coding robots, puzzles and games and, of course, loads of racing. The competition was fierce but the winner, who coincidentally won both the fastest and the best-looking car categories, picked the second-place winner to join them for the grand prize — a thrilling rip around the Motorsport Circuit track in a Porsche Taycan.

Grants granted

On Jan. 28 a total of 48 district students received $1,000 each in Industry Training Grants after finishing 900 youth apprenticeship hours.

“Apprenticeship work is done outside of school hours and gives students the opportunity to earn money while they go to school, as well as learning skills valued by employers. Students also earn 16 credits towards graduation and, most importantly, get a head start on their career,” said SD79 spokesperson Mike Russell.

The number of students that received the grant this year was the largest in the district’s history and almost double that of last year.

Also, the ITA presented the Careers and Dual Credit department with an award recognizing their hard work in making the Cowichan Valley School District the top apprenticeship district in the province.

Award for academics

In early January, we learned that Frances Kelsey graduate Eileen Wallgrove is the recipient of the 2018-19 Governor General’s Academic Medal.

The Academic Medal recognizes outstanding academic achievement and is awarded annually to the student graduating with the highest average. Wallgrove is now a student at the University of British Columbia and is studying Science One which focuses on integrating the sciences together

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