Editorial: School re-opening positive news for the whole Cowichan Valley

Years of school closures, which have seriously impacted families and entire communities

The Cowichan Valley got great news this week with the announcement that Mill Bay Elementary School will re-open in September.

Years of school closures, which have seriously impacted families and entire communities, were followed only a relatively short time later by news of climbing enrolment and the reinstitution of class size and composition rules that required more classes and teachers. It’s been a strange time in the school district’s history.

The province making $1.4 million available for the Cowichan Valley School District to do the necessary renovations to once again open the doors in Mill Bay is a positive step, any way you look at it.

And it won’t only benefit a single region. The district also announced that instead of a traditional curriculum, the school will adopt a nature-based program, something that is increasingly popular and increasingly in demand. It will be a program of choice schools superintendent Rod Allen said. When in full swing (which it won’t be immediately, but will come quickly due to demand, we predict) the school will accommodate 200 children. There will be up to 80 students to start.

Nature-based education involves lots of hands-on, outdoor activities, playing to children’s natural inquisitiveness about the world around them. Where it’s been instituted it’s been very popular, usually with more parents wanting to enrol their kids than spaces available.

We expect a lottery type system, much like the one to determine French immersion spaces, will be necessary. Who knows? We predict that demand may even be such that the district considers instituting more programs of this type at other schools in the future.

Now, if we can only get a new Cowichan Secondary School in the works…

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