To most students, June marks the most wonderful time of the year. But to the 60+ students at Sun Peaks, the whole school year is pretty wonderful.
Despite late season strike action that closed the doors of Sun Peaks Elementary and Discovery Centre for Balanced Education prematurely, the students made the most of the year with school programs that were as eclectic as their mountaintop setting.
This spring alone the students golfed, fished, swam, paddled, and participated in track and field; they got involved in philanthropy through Jump Rope for Heart; and were immersed in the arts through strings lessons. For the students and families, suggests Maria Cannon, PAC member and parent, they’re not missing out on anything.
And for the community as a whole, the municipal infrastructure of the school represents a success as it, “definitely puts Sun Peaks on the map,” says Lark Frolek-Dale, owner of Remax Alpine Realty.
Canadian and international media have seen that map, and numerous features have been written on education at Sun Peaks.
“There’s something attention-grabbing about a public school on ski slopes,” explains Toronto-based writer Adam Bisby. “It was interesting how grounded the place was. Once I was in the classrooms, it could have been any (good!) school here in Toronto. It seemed to offer the best of both worlds: an active, fun, outdoor experience; and a grounded, sensible, classroom environment.”
The local hope is that the educational opportunities will be a boon to the municipality.
“The school is definitely very interesting (to my clients),” Frolek-Dale continues. “I find the younger demographic a little more knowledgeable that a school is here; they’ve done their research, and people have purchased because of the school with the fact that their children will be going there.”
But, as people move into a community, people move away too. After a remarkable enrollment of almost 70 students from kindergarten through Grade 12 this year, the elementary school is planning for slightly fewer students in September. This is a concern to elementary families who wish to retain the three teachers presently employed in the school.
“I honestly don’t know how many kids we’re going to get in September,” explains Sun Peaks Elementary principal Deanna Brady. “Today, our staffing levels haven’t changed. I’m just waiting to see where everybody falls once the paperwork is done, we’ll just have to address that in September.”
As for the Grades 8 through 12 students, they’ll continue with the distributed learning program and teacher/facilitator support that’s in place through the @KOOL curriculum and Sun Peaks Education
“(Sun Peaks) schooling is really built upon the commitment of parents and the dedication to that community and I’m always amazed and grateful that we have such supportive parents who are so involved and so committed,” says Brady. “When I wrap up and think about the year, I think of a group of people who are willing to overcome obstacles together to reach goals for their kids. So was it a success? I think so.”