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Childcare or athletic space ‘emerging themes’ for new Walnut school

SD54 holding a second meeting to discuss Walnut Park community space options Tuesday.
The public is invited to give their thoughts on the community space for a new Walnut Park Elementary. (Marisca Bakker photo)

The board of education for the Bulkley Valley School District 54 had their last meeting of the school year June 19.

Superintendent Chris van der Mark wished this year’s graduates a “safe and happy celebration” before announcing some administrative changes.

“We’re happy to announce that Ms. Liliana Pesce will be the new vice principal at Muheim Elementary effective Aug. 1. Ms. Pesce has been doing a lot of outstanding work in the district in her teaching capacity, and she brings a wide range of experience from her previous days in Surrey (SD36), so we’re very happy to have her join the team.”

The board also made some announcements about the future Walnut Park Elementary School building.

“Based on the early feedback it does appear that certainly childcare space and athletic space are emerging themes and areas of interest. And, of course, at the end of the day the scale to which we’re going to be able to accommodate any of those type of things will depend on further community or corporate contributions,” van der Mark said.

“There have been a few consultation meetings … that [have] provided input both from staff and the public,” said secretary-treasurer Dave Margerm.

“What we’ve got is about 486 [square meters] of funded extra space to be used within the school. Also, there’s some agreement that they may look at taking a little bit, five square meters, of the classroom. They fund 80 square meters for a classroom, but there’s an option to take a little bit out and create more community space in between the classrooms,” Margerm added.

A field trip pitched by assistant superintendent Mike McDiarmid would include an exchange program with students from the Gaoming School District in China during the spring break of 2019.

“We have the ability to send 25 students to China next year. It will be a full exchange, so the kids that are going over will stay with a Chinese family, and those kids will be staying with our families here in Smithers … It’s very similar to the Quebec exchange that we do,” McDiarmid explained.

Senior students will go though an application process to be considered for a spot in the exchange program.

“We’ll have a complete student roster and itinerary probably a little bit later in the fall, and we’ll bring that back to you as a completed package for final approval for the trip. We need tentative approval today to keep our planning going,” McDiarmid said.

The trip in principle was unanimously accepted by members of the board.

The school board may potentially hold a meeting in August, but for now the next official meeting will not be held until early September.