There’s something exciting about high school graduation time, even for those of us who went through it decades ago.
As we watched the 2013 high school grad classes of both Ballenas and Kwalikum parade through our streets — a great tradition, by the way — we could almost feel the potential in the air, like it was some kind of palpable breath of fresh air, of promise.
Young people leaving our K-12 school system these days have many challenges ahead of them, but they also seem more prepared than those who graduated 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. There are course options and streams available now — trades, drama, digital — which seem a lot more interesting and relevant than what was offered in the past.
The challenge for us older folk is to provide an atmosphere and opportunities that encourage some of these grads to stick around Parksville Qualicum Beach. Those who resist change, those who don’t want to see growth or development or innovation, are snubbing their noses at the future and potential of both the communities in which they live and the young people graduating these past couple of weeks.
Does that mean a subdivision on every available piece of land or six-storey condo complexes cheek-by-jowl in downtown cores? Of course not.
It does mean keeping he doors open, however, and presenting a professional and welcoming attitude to those who want to invest in our communities and supply jobs locally for young people who want to be carpenters or home builders or electricians.
There is something brewing involving the Town of Qualicum Beach, School District 69 and some private interests that perhaps illustrates better what we mean about providing opportunities. In a nutshell, there’s talk about using some space at Kwalikum to set up a digital-business incubator, a place where big ideas can start, grow and hopefully become thriving enterprises.
It’s early days on this project, but it’s the type of thing that could keep young people in our communities, provide jobs and give us more optimism about the future. As we’ve seen during this grad period, we have some talented, keen young people in our region. It’s up to our community leaders to ensure these young people don’t automatically believe they have to leave.
— Editorial by John Harding