Ida and Maisie Newnes play in the snow in their backyard. Their parents plan to register both their children in the new South Canoe Outdoor Learning School. Registration opens Feb. 1. - Photo contributed.

Outdoor school to start registration

Parents can enrol their children in the new program for South Canoe on Feb. 1.

It may be January, but Clea Roddick is already looking forward to the next school year.

Roddick, a mother of three, is already onboard with registering her school-aged daughters in the Outdoor Learning School to open in South Canoe. The school will offer an outdoor-based program for kindergarten to Grade 6 and will open in September 2018. It may also expand to Grade 8 in future years.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District will be opening registration for the South Canoe Outdoor Learning School on Thursday, Feb. 1. Registration will occur at the District Education Support Centre at 341 Shuswap St. SW, from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Anyone registering during this time period will be considered on ‘equal basis’. We anticipate space for everyone. However, if we have more than we can accommodate at South Canoe then we would use a lottery for those that registered between 6-8 p.m.,” says a statement from the school district.

This means, unlike the popular French Immersion program, there will be no lineup and no first come, first serve.

Roddick is delighted to be enrolling her daughter into Grade 6 of the program, and plans to enrol her younger daughter into the kindergarten program in the fall of 2019.

“I’m ecstatic about the chance for my kids to learn the B.C. curriculum in a public system but through an ecological lens,” says Roddick. “There is the sense they will be learning to care for the the Earth, themselves and each other. My daughter is excited to explore new places in the community, enjoy being outside and, frankly, it just sounds like a very fun way to learn.”

Related link: Outdoor School to open in Salmon Arm

A committee investigating the outdoor school found plenty of research that outdoor learning programs have social and physical benefits, and are academically sound.

As part of the program, students will be spending learning time outdoors in all types of weather, although the former South Canoe Elementary will be available for indoor classroom time.

“Part of it will be educating the kids on how to dress and be smart outdoors. Maybe don’t jump in the puddle and get your pants soaked if you are going to be out in the cold,” laughs Roddick. “But I have every confidence in the teachers. I’m not afraid my children are going to freeze.”

Roddick says she is also looking forward to becoming part of a larger community stemming from the outdoor school.

“I think the whole family is going to gain from participating. It’s a unique way to support Salmon Arm’s environment and agriculture. These schools are popping up all over the country, so I’m glad Salmon Arm is ready for this and South Canoe is really the perfect place.”

After Feb. 1, it will be first come, first serve with registration moving to Bastion Elementary.

Parents are advised to bring their child’s birth certificate and care card to registration.

There is one caveat.

The school district is still awaiting approval from the City of Salmon Arm and the Agricultural Land Commission to use the land for school purposes.

“We are optimistic that we will receive approval prior to September 2018. However, if we do not receive approval to re-open South Canoe for September 2018, then all students will remain registered in their current school,” says the school district memo.

Questions about registration can be directed to Carl Cooper, Director of Instruction, at 250-804-7826.

You may also visit the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District No. 83 website at www.sd83.bc.ca for more information about the Outdoor Learning School or https://www.outdoorlearning.ca/south-canoe-outdoor-learning-school.

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