Like all the staff and teachers

THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: New uses for Parksville Winchelsea school

At least five School District 69 programs are now together in one place at the former Winchelsea Elementary School in Parksville

The word wasn’t actually used, but the new combination of programs in Winchelsea Place is all about synergy.

“There’s all kinds of opportunity for incidental collaboration,” said district principal of learning services Kerri Steel on The NEWS’ recent tour of the former elementary school with three of the program directors.

When the district closed four elementary schools and switched from a middle school to a K-7 and 8-12 configuration over the summer, the district-owned building opened up for programs they had run out of various, some rented, spaces.

The former school, at 140 Renz Road behind Ballenas Secondary, provides more space, and will offer students a concentration of services that Steel described as “wrap-around help.”

The programs include the Learning Centre (formerly known as the District Resource Centre), Aboriginal Education Program, Learning Services (formerly known as Student Support Services), Springboard Daycare and PASS/Woodwinds Alternate School.

“We started 25 years ago to address the needs of kids who were really challenged, 11 and 12 year olds who were not attending class,” said PASS/Woodwinds principal Joe Panichelli during the tour.

They started with the PEP (priority entry program) for Grade 6-7 students who require “intense emotional/social support,” and higher grade levels have been added over the years.

The school now includes Woodwinds, for Grade 8-10, including helping keep kids off the street who really need extra help, he said. Their goal is to feed students into the two district high schools.

Students in Grades 9-12 can attend PASS (Parksville Alternate Secondary School) and earn their regular Dogwood graduation certificate in a more supportive, flexible environment.

“We have so many wonderful partnerships in the region we offer more than $18,000 in scholarships every year,” he said of their often emotional graduation ceremonies at which some students speak of the huge accomplishment of the hard road they overcame.

They also have the Continuing Education Centre for adult education, with students into their 60s earning their high school graduation certificates.

PASS/Woodwinds has also gained notoriety for their unique outdoor recreation programs ROAMS (River, Ocean and Mountain School) and VISSP (Vancouver Island School Ski Patrol Program) which give students high school credits and hands on, experiential training in everything from white water rafting and fly-fishing to first aid and marine radio operation.

The new space offers facilities like a kitchen, project and art rooms and gymnasium they didn’t have at their Mills Street location, as well as closer access to Ballenas classes that some of the students take.

Meanwhile students, teachers and staff from across the district, who may be going to Winchelsea Place for one thing, will now have easy access to numerous other resources from the Learning Centre and Aboriginal Education Program, which have new meeting and storage space.

Like Steel, most of district principal of First Nations Rosie McLeod-Shannon’s staff are out working in schools, their offices at Winchelsea mostly serve as resource centres and their own offices.

McLeod-Shannon said they more than doubled the two little offices they had in Family Place.

Similarly, Steel said people like the district occupational therapist who covers different schools and used to “share the corner of a desk,” now has a real home base.

Though it has only been a couple weeks all three said they are amazed by the number of productive conversations they are having bumping in the halls and finding ways to collaborate, “creating a little community here,” as Steel put it.

They also have meeting spaces and a gym available for community use. Call the district operations and maintenance department at 250-248-2067 for more information or to book space.

Just Posted

How to judge the sand sculptures like a pro at the 2019 Parksville Beach Festival

World-class arbiter gives insight on how to choose a winner

Developers go back to drawing board after high-rise application deferred by Parksville council

IAG Developments has proposed a multi-building development on city’s waterfront

Parksville man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Nick Major, 21, was a taekwondo instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

WATCH: Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first extended steps in nearly three decades

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

City of Parksville warns of utility-payment phone scam

City says phone scammers are impersonating city staff demanding past-due cash

WATCH: Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first extended steps in nearly three decades

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Injured humpback returns to waters near Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular near Comox again and noticed the whale has been healing

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Multiple complaints filed to Town of Comox against accordion player

Comox received multiple complaints regarding accordion music in a freedom of information request

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

Most Read