Teacher Geoff Styles sharing his roundtable discussion with participants of a meeting focused on transforming the former South Canoe Elementary school to an outdoor education centre.                                Photo contributed

Teacher Geoff Styles sharing his roundtable discussion with participants of a meeting focused on transforming the former South Canoe Elementary school to an outdoor education centre. Photo contributed

New life envisioned for former school

School District explores transforming South Canoe property into outdoor education centre

The former South Canoe Elementary might again serve as a learning centre for Shuswap students.

School District #83 employees and potential community partners met this week at what is currently called the South Canoe Centre to share, discuss and build upon the vision of making the facility an outdoor education centre.

The vision, for a public school with a focus on place-based, outdoor experiential learning, was presented to the group of approximately 30 attendees by Bastion Elementary teacher Ceren Caner.

“It is the aim of this committee to develop a school that engages students with local ecosystems, where the focus of learning is on inquiry, experience and reflection,” said Caner. “Teaching the B.C. curriculum through nature’s lens, learning will support the well-being of the students, the community and the land.

“In the spirit of active collaboration, we envision the school as a hub for outdoor learning both in School District No. 83 and the community at large, supporting others in the delivery and growth of their own programs.”

While the mission had been to create an elementary-aged public school, Caner said the student range has not yet been determined; “however,organizers envision this as a program of choice for students throughout the school district.”

Meeting participants then broke into round-table discussions to focus on key elements of the vision and how community partner groups see themselves fitting in. Later, participants completed a survey for the school district. A survey will be sent home with students over the next two weeks for parents to complete. The results of the two surveys and the contributions of the round-table discussions will help shape future work of the committee overseeing the outdoor education centre project, as well as the future of outdoor education in the school district.

A public meeting to discuss the possibility of an outdoor education school is being planned for late November.

For more than a year the school district sought a buyer for the South Canoe school property. It was pulled off the market in April, however, after it was determined the building may be needed to alleviate pressure on elementary schools in Salmon Arm, many of which saw increased enrolment this year. Last summer, the City of Salmon Arm had offered to purchase the property for $475,000 to use as a public works yard. The sale was abandoned, however, after the Agriculture Land Commission denied the city’s application to use the property for non-farm use.