Re: the ongoing discussions on the closures of four elementary schools in School District 69.
I’d like to add my perspective, as a senior who volunteered at Qualicum Beach Elementary School (QBES) for several years, as a reading buddy and literacy mentor with the primary grades.
The principals and teachers at QBES have always made a special point of reaching out into the community to encourage interaction between seniors and young children. Everyone gains from these relationships: seniors have new “grandchildren” to share their knowledge with, and children learn that “old” isn’t necessarily a bad word.
This connection was also expanded into the off-school community, with the Grade 2/3 class spending one afternoon a month with the residents of Qualicum Manor. They read together, played games and had tea and cookies. Everyone looked forward to these afternoons, especially some seniors who had few other visitors. The school was recognized for this program by a provincial seniors advocacy group.
Taking QBES away from our community means the loss of these programs that have meant so much not only to the seniors, but to the teachers and children in what is a truly “caring and sharing” environment.
It has been suggested that QBES isn’t worth saving because its families are too new to Qualicum Beach. This attitude toward newcomers was prevalent in the 19th century but has no place in today’s world.
QBES is being portrayed as an old school in need of upgrading. In fact, renovations and improvements have been ongoing since the mid-1990s and the school is in good condition. The layout is perfect for young children: it is all on one level, and every classroom has a direct entrance to the outside, making it safe and easy to exit in case of emergency.
A dedicated group is working on a business plan that will enable QBES to serve even more members of our community. My hope is that they will be given this chance.