COMMENT: Christina Lake may be forced to embrace middle school, despite protest

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
January 29th, 2013

I have a complicated stake in the proposed middle school discussions in our school district. I am the product of a similar school format, which I loved, and I am the parent of a Christina Lake Elementary school student. Top that off with trying to be a neutral member of the media and it can cause a bit of internal conflict.

First, I have to state, I believe our school trustees have the right intentions while exploring the middle school option, which they will be making a decision on at the regular board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12. They want our kids to have great educational opportunities within a hostile climate of ever-shrinking budgets and declining enrollment.

That being said, as a Christina Lake parent I feel we are being pushed into sending our kids to a middle school in a very backhanded way.

While the trustees have agreed, after much vocalization from lake parents, to leave Christina Lake out of the decision at this time, we’ll be forced to participate anyway. What parent will agree to have their child transition in Grade 8 into the middle school and then the following year again into Grade 9 at the high school? Studies have shown the more transitions a child experiences during their school years, the more their academic performance will suffer.

They are patting us on the head with one hand saying “there, there Christina Lake, you can have what you want”, all the while the other hand is lifting the rug out from under our feet and forcing us to send our kids earlier to avoid the awkward transition in Grade 8 and 9.

They know parents will see this conflict, will want their children to have access to more elective courses and will give in and begin sending their kids in Grade 6. Those who don’t want to do this will eventually be forced to conform because the district will then see the declining Grade 6/7 students and will remove another teacher and stop offering those grades at Christina Lake. The decision will be made for the parents, and the trustees think they look like the heroes because they didn’t “force” us to make the change.

If you have ever darkened the doors of Christina Lake Elementary School, you might realize why the lake parents are so against our kids being moved out even earlier than they are already. Our school is special. I have been an education reporter for many years and in many school districts and I can tell you Christina Lake Elementary School is an amazing place where kids are supported, encouraged and celebrated. It’s like stepping back into my own childhood. I went to a school that wasn’t much bigger than Christina Lake. I visited that school 10 years later and the same secretary was sitting in the school office, she stood up and recognized me, remembered my name.  I was not a number to her but a person.

Christina Lake Elementary School is just like that school. The kindergarten teacher who teaches my son today, taught the parents of several of the students in his classroom. How cool is that!

So, now I’ve complained, I feel I need to offer up a suggestion.  Should the middle school format be agreed upon, I think Christina Lake Elementary School should go up to Grade 8. Then, to avoid having our kids get left behind in the elective experiences, we should bus them in for elective programs throughout the year.  Instead of the electives running all semester, they could run in short but more concentrated elective weeks.

This might sound like I’m asking for special privileges, and I guess I am.

We, as a collective, have chosen to live here because of the school and because of the caring child-centered community.

Trustees, please allow us to parent in the way we have chosen. That school is the heart of our community and it contains our future.

We believe we know what is best for our kids and we ask the school board to please support us in continuing the good work that their staff and our parents are already doing. Forcing our kids to be bussed into another community at the tender age of 12 just isn’t our idea of a quality educational experience.

Categories: Op/Ed