I take issue with the much-publicized statement that small schools do not give good education. This belief does not describe Vanier elementary, which has been yet again put on the list for closure.
First, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify: Vanier Elementary School, in the 2006/2007 school year, has 182 students that are funded by the ministry, nine of whom are aboriginal kindergarten students, seven of whom are social adjustment students (both of these are district programs and are excluded from the 151 FTE) and 32 of whom are funded at 50% as kindergarten students. That brings the figure to 151 FTE students — not 135 students as has been published.
Second, our children attended Vanier for their elementary education, and, at their present schools, I have had the opportunity to compare our children’s education with those of other students from “bigger” schools. Our children have had many advantages at Vanier. They were given the opportunity to witness first hand, an extreme love for literacy, life, and academia at that school. They were able to produce winter writing books filled with poetry and prose that they personally wrote and performed/read. They were also given the opportunities of taking part in wonderful musical productions, and were part of a large choir that gave many enriching experiences for all interested students — from giving pleasure to seniors’ homes to providing entertainment at Joe and Rosalie Segal’s award ceremony at the Pan Pacific and for the Dalai Lama.
How many students can say they know who Joe and Rosalie Segal are or that they met world leaders and the Dalai Lama at BC Place when they were only 10 years old? How better to see social studies first-hand? Vanier’s staff gave all students the benefit of exposure to education that some would not otherwise have had. Isn’t that one of the missions of School District 43 –– access to education for all students? Vanier fulfilled that mission and now you are considering closing it?
This group of teachers in, what Board Chair Melissa Hyndes would call, a “small” school, should be used as a model and staff-not decimated and merged into different schools. I would ask that the board search its administration, first, for any areas of cutbacks, and then consider closure as a last resort.