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Fighting for four days in Sun Peaks

Sun Peaks students get their daily exercise by walking or skiing to and from school.
Image Credit: Discovery Centre for Balanced Education
February 14, 2014 - 11:33 AM

KAMLOOPS — School District 73 trustees agreed to a two-week spring break for all schools except Sun Peaks Elementary earlier this month and parents of children attending the ski hill school want to keep it that way.

Trustees decided it was better to wait for input from parents, teachers and students that have been attending the school under a four-day week since the school first opened, before making any drastic changes to the school calendar.

“An overwhelming majority of parents wish to retain the four-day week,” Parent Advisory Council Chair Catherine Adams says in her report, which is going before the board Monday.

PAC sent out surveys to all 35 families with kids in the school and found that of the 32 that responded 97 per cent wish to retain a four-day week and 84 per cent would prefer to retain a one-week spring break as well.

The council came up with two calendar options to cover both a one week and a two week break, though both retain the four-day week. If the district decides to implement a two-week break for the Sun Peaks school, PAC and teachers suggest using Thursday professional development days as instructional days.

The report notes the children seem to be happier with their life balance, which includes more time for family and extracurricular activities like skiing — and 94 per cent of students are taking Friday lessons this winter. All the students get their daily exercise by walking/skiing/biking up to the school, which is located at the top of the bunny hill.

The teachers also weighed in on the potential changes. Kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher Lynn Maartman says the children are doing fine and seem to be more fit as well, while Grade 2/3 teacher Colleen Greer says most kids are meeting or exceeding expectations in the core subjects. Grade 4-6 teacher Cindie Hyrhirchuk notes most of the students are doing well academically but also seem to be happy and well-adjusted.

The school has grown from 18 students in the 2010-2011 in the first year when it operated through distributed learning. Two years later the Kindergarten through Grade 5 component was officially adopted by the school district as Sun Peaks Elementary and this year Grade 6 was added as well. In total 49 students now attend the elementary school while another 20 students take Grades 7-12 through the district open learning program.

Some comments from parents:

“We love what we have going on here. Please do not fix what is not broken.”

“My children are thriving in this environment. The four-day week allows our family to spend time together as we are otherwise working many weekends due to the nature of our work.”

“Our son now in Grade 4, has attended school at Sun Peaks since September 2010, on a four-day week schedule. He loves school, and is doing extremely well in every aspect. The four-day week allows us to enjoy more family time, plus our son has the opportunity to stay healthy and active by taking part in Sun Peaks sports and arts activities, including skiing, tennis, golf, hiking, biking, and music lessons.”

“The school in Sun Peaks and the fact that it is a four-day week was a major factor in our decision to move to Sun Peaks from overseas. We want to raise our children in an outdoor and sporting environment away from too much screen time. The facilities in Sun Peaks and the time afforded by a four-day week was a major incentive for us.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

-This story was edited at 2:27 p.m., Feb. 14, 2014 to clarify the first years of operation were through distributed learning.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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